A man has been killed by the pet lion he kept in his family home for breeding purposes, having gotten locked in the big cat’s cage.
Michal Prasek, who lived in the eastern Czech town of Zdechov, was found dead by his father at around 7 a.m. Tuesday. His father told local media the door was locked from the inside, the BBC reported.
Prasek, 34, was the owner of the nine-year-old lion as well as a lioness, which was kept in a separate cage. Prasek used the animals for breeding and his business had reportedly drawn numerous complaints from neighbors. According to Radio Praha, Prasek did not have the required permits to keep the animals.
Both lions were shot dead by police when they arrived on the scene to investigate. A police spokesperson told local media that killing the two animals was “absolutely necessary for them to get to the man,” the BBC noted. According to local news website Novinky.cz, the lioness was pregnant.
A spokesperson added explained that the “fatal incident” resulted in the man being “right in the lion’s pen.” Pasek’s body has now been recovered and sent for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death.
Prasek bought the male lion in 2016 and the lioness in 2018. He kept both predators in self-made cages in his backyard in Zdechov, close to the border with Slovakia. In the past, he has been handed fines because he did not secure planning permission before building the enclosures.
In response, Prasek reportedly refused to allow anyone representing the local authorities onto his property, leaving the two sides at an impasse. The BBC explained that authorities were unable to forcibly remove the animals because keeping them was not illegal, there is a lack of alternative facilities in the Czech Republic and there was no evidence of cruelty towards the animals.
Zdechov Mayor Tomas Kocourek told local media that Prasek would often walk his lions around the local area on a leash, prompting regular complaints from other local residents.
Prasek was in the news in June 2018 when a cyclist crashed into his lioness while Prasek was taking her for a walk. The cyclist was eventually able to fight the animal off using his bike, but still required hospital treatment. The incident was eventually classed as a traffic accident after local police were called to investigate.
“Today's incident will perhaps finally help to resolve this long-term problem,” Kocourek said.
Private ownership of big cats is surprisingly common in the Czech Republic, allowing the country to become a hub of illegal wildlife smuggling. According to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, there are more than 250 big cats kept by private owners in the country.
After last year’s collision between the cyclist and Prasek’s lion, Kocourek told the agency that because it is not illegal to keep such animals, “I can't do anything, apart from appealing to the owners' conscience.”
While many are kept as pets, DPA explained that others are killed for their meat and bones which are subsequently sold on the black market.
In this file photo, a lion licks a watermelon-flavored ice block at the zoo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on January 15, 2019. CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images