Cats often attack birds, but it's not often that people are witness to very large cats — in this case lions — attacking and killing a cute and very popular owl.
The bizarre incident occurred over the weekend at Colchester Zoo in Essex, England, as visitors watched in alarm.
The barn owl, named Ash, was being used in a falconry display outside the lions' enclosure.
Ash somehow became spooked and struck the window of another enclosure, then flew in a daze to the roof of yet another enclosure, before making a low flight across the lions' pen.
Ash landed to the side of the pen, but slipped and fell inside, whereupon nature took its course.
"Families were horrified when a female lion 'clubbed' the bird out of the air before a male pounced and devoured it in front of them," wrote Kiran Randhawa for the London Evening Standard.
Gavin Duthie was visiting with his 2-year-old son, Daniel, who burst into tears at the sight.
"Daniel was in tears along with most of the people who were there," Duthie told the newspaper. "Women and children were screaming but it was all over in seconds.
"It's in the lion's nature — I have taught Daniel that lions are not fluffy animals. He was very upset.
Zoo officials also were upset. A spokesman explained that "in 25 years of falconry displays nothing like this has occurred as the birds do normally instinctively know that this isn't a safe place to go."
It remains unclear what initially spooked the unfortunate bird of prey.
-- Image shows Ash the barn owl before the bizarre mishap claimed the popular zoo resident's life