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They were there to see lions, but had no idea they would be giving one a lift atop their vehicle.
Hartbeespoort's Lion & Safari Park general manager André LaCock said visitors were on a self-drive activity on July 14. The Johannesburg park offers guests an unguided self-drive tour through lion, cheetah and wild dog enclosures.
LaCock said the lions were young and fairly new to the enclosure.
"It is a young pride, they haven’t been in that particular enclosure for too long, about three to four months.
"Fortunately, these customers adhered to our safety guidelines by keeping their windows closed. No injuries were sustained. However, the customers were taken aback."
He said in the past there had been the "odd" biting of vehicles' tyres and bumpers, but this incident was the first of its kind.
"The safety of our guests is very important to us and we have removed those three young male lions from the self-drive enclosure.
"They are in another enclosure in our management area and the vehicle is being repaired at our cost," LaCock said.
The customers had been invited back - for a guided tour this time - he said.