KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) _ A lion escaped a private zoo in a popular tourist area Monday as handlers tried to move it from a cage flooded by heavy rains.

The full-grown female African lion was last seen running toward a wooded area behind JungleLand, said sheriff's spokesman Lt. July Rivers.

``They tried to tranquilize it but it didn't work,'' Rivers said.

JungleLand is located in the heart of a busy tourist district, not far from Walt Disney World.

JungleLand spokeswoman Cynthia Potter said Monday night that it would be in the animal's nature to ``take advantage of the night and sleep.''

``We have the perimeter surrounded and secured at this point,'' she said.

Agents with the Game and Freshwater Fish Commission were sent to Jungleland to help find the lioness.