VIDEO: Why is a lion lying around in Eden Prairie, Minnesota? - KMSP-TV

VIDEO: Why is a lion lying around in Eden Prairie, Minnesota?

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) -

The land of 10,000 lakes is teeming with wild animals, but a fully grown lion is a rare sight -- especially when it's just lounging around in the back yard of a metro suburb.

A photo of an animal control officer posing by the giant cat got a lot of people talking, especially since Eden Prairie residents are prohibited from keeping exotic animals -- but apparently, it's OK as long as it's just visiting.

"When we walked into the back yard, it was just like, 'Woah! There's a lion sitting right here in the back yard!" Pastor Jordan Fleig said. "It actually took my breath away, believe it or not."

In Burnsville, the rules are a bit different. Discover Church found that out when they learned the lion couldn't come to their church without a special permit.

VIDEO: Lack of permit axes 'Lion and Lamb' Easter service in Burnsville

The 535-pound lion named Mufasa was born in captivity and has appeared in numerous films and photo shoots. The church imported him to illustrate the pastor's Easter sermon about the lion and the lamb.

"We wanted to make sure everybody was comfortable with our service, so we were going to take him from the back and put him center stage during the service," Fleig explained.

It would have made for a powerful service, but even though the lion's trainer -- Animals of Montana -- obtained the necessary exhibition permits from the Department of Natural Resource, the city of Burnsville pulled the plug just days before Easter Sunday because the church hadn't gotten a permit from the city.

"Some people were a little relieved, I guess you could say. 'What's this lion going to do? Do you have it in a cage?" Fleig said. "Every time I talk to them, I say, 'It's just going to be sitting there on the stage.'"

Instead, the Easter Sunday appearance was limited to a short video shot a few days before. Now, the lion has returned to Montana, leaving the steel enclosure that was its temporary home.

"A lot of planning goes into these types of big events, and we thought we had all our ducks in a row, but we missed one little permit," Fleig lamented. "So, we're going to be working with the city once again for next year."

An Animal Control officer with Eden Prairie snapped a photo when he stopped by the home to make sure all the safety and security measures were in place -- including a temporary, above-ground electric fence. By the end of the king of the jungle's 5-day visit, there hadn't been any complaints or incidents.

"It was just sitting there, totally tame, totally content," Fleig said. "It was just kind of sitting there, roaming around the back yard."


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