LAHORE: In a horrifying incident at the Lahore safari zoo, four lions killed a 17-year-old grass reaper. However, how Bilal Hussain managed to get near the lions was yet to be ascertained.
Safari officials said Hussain climbed a 12-foot-high fence on Tuesday night and jumped into the safari zoo to cut grass from the rear end of the enclosure which looks like a thick jungle. Four lions devoured him and the next morning parts of his skeleton were found in the lions’ enclosure.
Lahore Safari Zoo Director Mohammad Shafqat told Dawn that Hussain, who belonged to Athoowal village, had been missing for the past two days. On Wednesday morning, his parents went to the safari looking for him and spotted his shoes and a sickle in the lion safari, and some grass he may have cut bundled in his shawl. These items were found inside the enclosure far from the fence.
The family raised a hue and cry on finding Hussain’s belongings. The safari officials caged the lions and then stepped into the enclosure to find his remains.
Hussain’s father Mohammad Shareef told Dawn that his son had left home at 5pm on Monday to cut grass and never returned.
Mystery surrounds Bilal’s decision to get into enclosure to cut grass
“We kept searching for him at all possible places. We then thought of visiting the safari on the likelihood of finding some clue to his whereabouts. But to our utter shock, we found the remains of our beloved son. I have six children — three daughters and three boys — and Bilal was the eldest,” he said.
To a question about why Hussain would jump into the lion’s enclosure just to cut grass or if he had an enmity with someone, Shareef rejected outright both possibilities, saying he left home in a cheerful mood. He was mentally stable and had no enmity with anyone, the grieving man added.
There were no CCTV cameras installed at the safari to determine what exactly happened.
The safari director said that officials called the police at 15 after they found the remains of the boy and the police initiated an investigation into the matter.
Punjab Wildlife Director General Tahir Hamdani told Dawn that a departmental inquiry had been initiated into the matter and a report would be compiled in a couple of days.
Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2020