A man has been mauled to death by lions in front of two bus loads of visitors after scaling the wall of a safari park in India.
A 22-year-old man was mauled by a lion at the Mohendra Choudhary Zoological Park in Zirakpur on Sunday. The incident took place around 1.30 pm when the victim ventured inside the lion enclosure by jumping off a wall of the zoo.
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 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.
Roshan Sunkaria from the state forest department, added: ‘He was an intruder in the zoo. We took him to the hospital but he succumbed to his injuries.’
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.
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.
The animals that attacked the man were Asiatic lions – a critically endangered species and a major tourist draw.
Only around 500 exist in the wild, all in the Gir sanctuary in the western Indian state of Gujarat.