A man was found dead inside a big cat enclosure at a Pakistan zoo on Wednesday by staff carrying out routine cleaning, officials said.
The body was found at Bahawalpur's Sherbagh Zoo in Punjab province after zoo staff spotted a shoe in the mouth of one of the big cats.
Man Believed to Have Jumped Inside the Enclosure
"When they cleaned the zoo and the dens, they found the (animal) holding a shoe in its mouth," Zaheer Anwar, a senior government official in Bahawalpur, told the media.
"The staff got suspicious and then they found a body inside the den," he said. The official described the big cat using a word that in Pakistan can mean tiger or leopard, and both are believed to be housed inside the zoo.
"Our assessment so far is that this appears to be a lunatic, because a sensible person would not jump into the den," Anwar said. "You can see that the den is secured. There are stairs behind the den, maybe he jumped from there."
Victim's Legs were Heavily Mauled
Anwar added that the zoo staff are accounted for.
Zafarullah, an official of the rescue service 1122 in Bahawalpur, told AFP that the victim's legs had been heavily mauled. "It is yet not known who he is and how he got there. It is being investigated. The body looked several hours old," said Zafarullah. He added that forensic experts were examining the body.
The zoo is run by Punjab's wildlife department, according to its website, and houses lions, tigers and leopards.
The man's death comes just days after a zoo keeper was mauled to death by a black bear in India. According to the Times of India, the incident took place at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park after the staffer accidentally left the night house doors open while cleaning the enclosure.