A group of primarily female lions spent over an hour licking and pawing through Diana Fiorentinos' purse after grabbing the bag during a safari in Zambia
Designer bags are attractive to ladies of all species.
According to Diana Fiorentinos of New York City, a group of primarily female lions managed to nab her $1,800 designer bag while on safari in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park with the Lion Camp lodge.
Diana, who runs "a boutique, family-owned travel company called Classic Escapes" with her aunt Stacy Fiorentinos, tells PEOPLE she and Stacy were visiting Zambia together in late October to scout "worthwhile destinations for clients" when the incident occurred.
"I have been on safari several times before, so I know firsthand how truly wild this purse-snatching experience really was!" Diana shares.
On the safari, Diana noticed early that the lions she and her aunt spotted were "very active." As a result, Diana's "camera action was fierce," and she was focused on capturing the magnificent animals, not on her belongings.
"There was a lot of shuffling going on, and the next thing I knew, the lions had my bag. I really don't even know how they got it, but I assume it must've fallen out of the vehicle at some point with all of the excitement that was happening," she says.
Diana adds that her initial reaction to seeing the wild animals with her expensive purse was, "OMG!" But this joy soon turned to "panic" as Diana realized the lions not only had her bag but the contents inside, too, which included her iPad and a necklace Diana always wears when she flies.
"It belonged to my grandma, who isn't with us anymore," the tour operator explains.
Diana fought the urge to grab her purse while watching the big cats curiously paw through her bag.
"These lions must have good taste because they seemed very excited to have my bag. They were playing and curious about it. It was really funny because there were four female lions and one male. The ladies were so gentle with the bag, just licking it, but when the boy got his paws on it, the destruction began," Diana says of what happened next.
For over an hour, Diana watched while the lions explored every inch of her purse with their mouths and paws. The safari's guide tried encouraging the lions to move away from the bag, but the big cats didn't budge until several safari vehicles arrived.
Once the lions cleared the area, the guides collected Diana's bag and its contents. Astonishingly, aside from a battery and one hat, Diana received all the belongings inside her purse when the lions grabbed it.
"Some pieces were missing from the bag, but I did manage to place the strap back on and keep using it," Diana says of the final outcome.
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While the animal theft was initially worrisome, Diana says she can now look back at the bizarre occurrence and smile.
"I was really upset, but once we retrieved the bag and one of the hats, I kind of relaxed and was able to laugh about it. It was just a completely surreal experience that I hope doesn't happen ever again," she adds.
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