The attack took place in a village near Istra in Moscow on Tuesday, the Russian Investigative Committee said. The man’s body was found with deep wounds in a cage where wild animals were being kept.
He reportedly tried to feed the animals but, when he entered the cage, the panther attacked and mauled him to death. The deceased was an animal keeper by profession, police sources told TASS, who also revealed that the victim’s throat had been cut open.
After killing the man, the predator escaped and roamed free for hours before it was found and confined in the same cage.
The animal’s owner is a Moscow businessman, who keeps up to 10 other predators in his private zoo, according to the Mash Telegram channel. Allegedly, he is not planning to euthanize his pet, saying that the victim wasn’t working in his zoo. The deceased reportedly visited his brother in the area and wasn’t supposed to enter the cage, the panther’s owner claimed.
Local residents were shocked by the drama in their neighborhood and said that no one warned them about the escaped animal. “My husband was walking our dog [at the time of the incident],” a local woman told Russian tabloid website Life.ru. Even before the attack, she said that locals felt uneasy about wild beasts being kept in their neighborhood, as they often heard the animals roaring.