Man mauled to death by lions at his own zoo

Police shot a lion and a lioness   (AFP via Getty Images)
Police shot a lion and a lioness (AFP via Getty Images)

A Slovakian zoo owner who had 16 big cats has been mauled to death by his own animals.

Farmer Jozef owned a mini zoo in the town of Kysucke Nove Mesto in Slovakia but he was killed by lions, with police only able to find body parts in the enclosure. He died on Tuesday, May 16.

Police shot one lion and one lioness after being alerted to the attack, and now authorities are considering euthanising all 16 of the lions and tigers at Ranc Pri Ziline farm.

Jozef had got permission to breed the big cats, but this had expired in 2019 according to local media reports.

Local media reported that the farmer would sometimes feed the big cats himself, although this has not been confirmed.

“We received a report that the keeper did not return from the enclosure of exotic animals in the Oskerda district of Kysucky Nove Mesto,” said Zuzana Sefcikova, a spokesperson for Zilina Regional Police.

They continued: “All available forces and means were immediately sent to the farm for the purpose of properly securing the scene.

“A man’s body was found on the scene, but the exact cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.”

A spokesperson for the emergency services, Alena Krcova, added that “parts of a human body were identified at the scene”.

Local media also reported that Jozef repeatedly had run-ins with the law since 2017 and faced criticism from animal rights groups.

Slovakian authorities are currently deciding what to do with the rest of the big cats, with the Agriculture Minister not ruling out euthanising them.

He said: “If such a tragic situation happens, the carnivorous instinct can usually repeat at different times.”

Jozef’s zoo was last inspected by the State Veterinary and Food Adminstration in 2021, when it was fined EUR 2,000 (approximately £1,700). The reasons for the fine were unclear.

This investigation is ongoing.