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Woman scales barrier to feed cookies to lions in Tennessee zoo

By Tim Ghianni

(Reuters) - A woman climbed over a railing at the Memphis Zoo, breached a barrier of thorn bushes and tried to feed lions cookies through a piano wire fence as she sang to them, a zoo spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The woman, who the zoo did not identify, has been banned for life after the incident on Monday, zoo spokeswoman Laura Doty said.

"She was trying to stick (the cookies) through the piano wire," Doty said, adding that the three lions in the enclosure backed away from her.

Doty said the woman was singing a song she had apparently made up. Zoo officials did not know what kind of cookies she tried to feed to the lions. It was the second incident in two weeks involving the same woman, she said.

Witnesses who called zoo security told authorities the woman appeared to drop her cell phone over the railing and retrieved it before going back over a second time, Doty said.

"They might look cute and cuddly and they are absolutely adorable," Doty said of the lions. "They are still wild and they need to be respected by maintaining a safe distance."

(Reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Tennessee; Editing by David Bailey and Gunna Dickson)

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