Tabu the lion cub spent Tuesday night trapped in a dead-end alley behind the Playland Bokstore on 9th Street NW.

Simma Dawn, Tabu's owner, a dancer here for an engagement at the Gayety Theater up the street, says she spent the night - of 4 1/2 hours of it - on the sidewalk, waiting for the Animal Rescue League.

"They kept saying they were on the way," I gave up."

Eventually, with Dawn, first districted police and the Humane Society looking anxiously on, Sgt. Jon L. Thume of Fire Department Truck Co. No. 1, dropped a 30-foot ladder from the roof and descended into the dark with Tabu's carrying cage. At the bottom, said Thume, he found Tabu "walking around and making a strange noise somewhere between a meow and a growl."

Dawn had left her pet Tuesday afternoon to do 1:30 and 3:30 shows at the Gayety. "I finished up around six and he was gone," she reported. Tabu apparently had squeezed out between the bars of a rear window.

"He may have gone out to play with the pigeons," Dawn theorized, "and when they took off he might have tried to run after them. It's the only logical explanation."

Tabu does not appear in Dawn's burlesque act. "He's too young," she explains. "I have him traveling with me so he can get accustomed to people."

A full-grown pet lion, Kimba, currently is at Dawn's home in Saratoga, N., according to the entertainer, she said it is under the care of her boyfriend Joe, whom she identified as an Albay policeman.

Kimba has appeared on stage, "but in no way, shape or form in sexual capacity," Dawn said. "I do a song with roars and growls and it looks as though I am being mauled and attacked."