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Man mauled to death by lions in front of busloads of zoo visitors

Victim ignored keepers and, after scaling a 12ft perimeter wall, ‘jumped inside’ the lions’ enclosure

Adam Withnall
Monday 21 January 2019 12:56 GMT
Chhatbir Zoo spans 505 acres and is home to more than 1,200 animals
Chhatbir Zoo spans 505 acres and is home to more than 1,200 animals (Wikimedia/Vjdchauhan)

A man has been mauled to death by lions at a zoo in India after he climbed over a large perimeter wall into the animals’ enclosure.

The incident took place on Sunday afternoon at the Chhatbir Zoo in Mohali, Punjab state. Zoo officials said a young man in his early twenties was seen climbing the wall and told to stop by keepers.

He ignored them and “jumped inside”, Punjab wildlife chief Dr Kuldeep Kumar told the Hindustan Times.

The man had entered the zoo’s lion safari attraction, a large enclosure housing four lions which visitors are only able to access via bus tours. He was immediately spotted by two lions, a male and a female, said Dr Kumar.

“Lionesses have a very curious nature and [lioness] Shilpa saw something falling from a great height inside their territory. She rushed to take a look and found her prey. She instantly attacked the man, caught hold of his neck and then dragged him along,” Dr Kumar said.

The incident lasted around 10 minutes and was witnessed by two busloads of visitors before a rapid response team drove the lions away from the man.

The victim was rushed to hospital in a police vehicle but declared dead on arrival. No forms of identification were found on the body, meaning police have been unable to inform the man’s next of kin and begin an autopsy.

Police said a notice would be placed in newspapers asking the man’s family to come forward. If no one does so, doctors will proceed with the postmortem examination in 72 hours.

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Zoo officials told the IANS news agency they were investigating how the man was able to enter the enclosure. The wall he scaled was 12ft high and topped with barbed wire, they said. In the meantime, the lion safari has been closed to visitors indefinitely.

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