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Man found dead after staff see big cat "holding a shoe in its mouth" at Pakistan zoo

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 the eastern province of Punjab after staff spotted a shoe in the mouth of one of the big cats.

"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."

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, who goes by one name.

He said forensic experts were examining the body.

The zoo is run by Punjab's wildlife department, according to its website, and costs adults 18 cents to enter.

"Lions, tigers, and hyenas are housed in ... modern moated enclosures," the website says.

The department has not commented.

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 at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park happened after the staffer accidentally left the night house doors open while cleaning the enclosure.

In 2000, the remains of a missing teenage boy were found in the lion enclosure of a different zoo in Pakistan, the BBC reported.

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