Lions Take a Nap in the Road amid Park's Coronavirus Closure: They're 'Enjoying the Freedom'

"Normally they would be in the bushes because of the traffic but they are very smart," said Kruger National Park media officer Isaac Phaala

When the humans are away, the lions will sleep the day away!

While South Africa’s Kruger National Park remains closed to the public amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the park’s wild animals are taking full advantage of the reserve they call home.

This week, the park posted a handful of images that showed a pride of lions taking a group snooze while spreading out on a road that’s normally filled with visitors and vehicles.

“Kruger visitors that tourists do not normally see,” the park captioned the photos, which showed some of the lions resting in the middle of the road. “This lion pride are usually resident on Kempiana Contractual Park, an area Kruger tourists do not see. This afternoon they were lying on the tar road just outside of Orpen Rest Camp.”

Lions in the road
Kruger National Park

The photos were captured by park ranger Richard Sowry, who came upon the unusual site while performing a routine sweep of the grounds.

Kruger is a very wild place,” he told the BBC. “It has been wild and it is still wild.”

Added media officer Isaac Phaala, “normally they would be in the bushes because of the traffic but they are very smart and now they are enjoying the freedom of the park without us.”

Offering up another explanation for why the lions chose to sleep on the road instead of the grass, Phaala explained, “the tar was drier than the grass at the time — big cats and water don’t mix.”

Throughout the closure, the park’s staff has received some assistance keeping the grounds neat and tidy!

Numerous animals — including some zebras — were spotted hanging out together on the park’s golf course on Friday. “Assisting the greenkeeper in his efforts to ensure the Skukuza Golf Club is in its usual tip-top shape when the humans return to play after #SALockdown,” they captioned the image.

A group of wild dogs has also been spotted out on the greens — and some lions have taken advantage of the opportunity to visit as well.

“Even as the sun rises, without all our human visitors, the urge to sing the ‘lion sleeps tonight’ is just a whim away, a whim away, a whim away!” the park joked on social media, alongside a video of the wild animals taking a tour of the links.

As of Friday, there have been at least 2,605 confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Africa, and 48 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, over two million people have been sickened with the virus and at least 147,384 have died from a coronavirus-related illness.

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