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Pakistan zoo shut down after man mauled to death by tigers, shoe found in animal's mouth

A zoo in Pakistan has been shut down after a man was mauled to death by tigers in an attack discovered during routine cleaning, officials said Thursday. The body was found on Wednesday morning in Bahawalpur's Sherbagh Zoo in the eastern province of Punjab after staff spotted one of the three tigers with a shoe in its mouth.

"The zoo is closed right now as we determine how the man got in," Ali Usman Bukhari, a senior officer of the province's wildlife department, which operates the zoo, told AFP.

The condition of the body suggests the attack happened late Tuesday night.

This picture taken on December 6, 2023 shows a covered dead body of a man who was mauled to death by tigers in a zoo in Bahawalpur district, in the eastern province of Punjab. AFP via Getty Images

"The autopsy report has not been released, however evidence gathered from the enclosure points towards him being alive when he was attacked by the tigers," Bukhari said.

"The tigers did not go out of the den to attack the man, he jumped into their enclosure," he said.

"If we find a security lapse, we will address it. If need be, we will hire private security guards."

The victim has not been identified and no family member has come forward to claim the body.

Speaking to media outside the zoo after the body was discovered on Wednesday, senior local government official Zaheer Anwar said all staff had been accounted for.

"Our assessment so far is that this appears to be a lunatic, because a sensible person would not jump into the den," he said.  

"You can see the den is secured. There are stairs behind the den, maybe he jumped from there."

The three tigers present in the den when the body was discovered have been restricted to a smaller space while evidence is collected.

The zoo was built in 1942 by the ruling royal family of the former princely state of Bahawalpur and costs adults 18 cents to enter.

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

Pakistan's zoos are generally in a poor condition and frequently accused of disregarding animal welfare. In 2000, the remains of a missing teenage boy were found in the lion enclosure of a different zoo in Pakistan, the BBC reported.

The man's death came 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.

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