Man mauled to death by lion and lioness he had kept illegally in his backyard

Michal Prasek, 33, was found dead in the pen of his nine-year-old lion by his father who said the enclosure was locked from the inside


                            Man mauled to death by lion and lioness he had kept illegally in his backyard

A Czech man was found mauled to death by a lion he kept illegally caged in his backyard. 33-year-old Michal Prasek, from the village of Zdechov, located in the Vsetin District in the Zlin Region, was found dead in the pen of his nine-year-old lion by his father, who said the enclosure was locked from the inside.

The Mirror reported that the 33-year-old's father noticed his son lying motionless in the enclosure of the animal from security camera footage at around 6 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, March 5. When police arrived at the scene, they shot dead the lion, as well as another lioness that was kept in a separate cage.

Lenka Javorkova, a spokesperson for the authorities, insisted the shootings were "absolutely necessary" for them to get to the man. "The police had to shoot the two lions dead," she was quoted saying. "A doctor then declared the owner dead."

Prasek bought the lion in 2016 and the lioness just last year so he could breed the pair. He reportedly kept them in homemade enclosures in his backyard. He had been denied planning permission to build the pens, but proceeded anyway, resulting in authorities levying a fine for illegal breeding.

However, Prasek did not back off, with his conflict with the authorities reaching a stalemate after he refused to let anyone onto his property. The dearth of any alternative facilities in the country or evidence that the lion and lioness had been cruelly treated meant the animals could not be forcibly removed either.

Zděchov mayor Tomas Kocourek told local media that Prasek would often walk his lions around the local area and that it prompted regular complaints from local residents. However, he said they had not been able to take action. 

The 33-year-old made headlines last summer after a cyclist collided with his lioness while he was out walking it on a leash. The cyclist had to be taken to a hospital to receive treatment for some scratches and, following intervention by the police, it was ruled as a "traffic accident."

Prasek's body was successfully recovered after his death and sent for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death, according to Newsweek. "Today's incident will perhaps finally help to resolve this long-term problem," said Kocourek after Prasek's death. 

However, private ownership of big cats in the Czech Republic is reportedly quite common. The Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that there were more than 250 big cats being kept by private owners in the country and that it has become a hub for wildlife smugglers.