A man was found mauled to death inside an enclosure at a Pakistani zoo after cleaners came across a big cat with a shoe in its mouth.
The gruesome discovery was made on Wednesday at the Sherbagh Zoo in Bahawalpur, Punjab province.
“When they cleaned the zoo and the dens, they found the [animal] with a shoe in his mouth,” Zaheer Anwar, a senior local government official, told the media.
“The staff became suspicious and then found a body inside the den,” he added.
It is unclear what type of feline it was because Anwar used a word that may mean tiger or leopard, both of which are believed to be housed at the zoo, although some local media reported it was a tiger.
The victim of the attack has not been identified and it is unclear how he ended up in the animal enclosure.
“Our assessment so far is that he looks like a lunatic, because a sensible person wouldn’t jump into the studio,” Anwar said. “You can see the lair is secured. There are stairs behind the studio, maybe he jumped from there.”
Zafarullah, an official with rescue organization 1122 in Bahawalpur, who goes by only one name, said the victim’s legs had been badly bitten and his body appeared to be “several hours old.”
“We still don’t know who he is or how he got there. He is being investigated,” Zafarullah said.
Forensic experts were examining the body to determine the exact cause of death.
A preliminary autopsy report conducted at Bahawal Victoria Hospital revealed that the victim was torn to pieces by the big cats, Pakistani news channel Geo.tv reported. He also indicated that the man tried to defend himself but was dominated by the animals.
The zoo is operated by the Punjab wildlife department and houses, among other animals, lions, tigers and hyenas in “modern moated enclosures,” according to its website. Adult admission to the zoo is just 18 cents.
The Bahawalpur local government has formed a committee to investigate the deadly animal attack and submit a detailed report within a week, according to Geo.tv.
The zoo has been closed to visitors pending the outcome of the investigation.