Commuters in Karachi, Pakistan experienced an unusual traffic jam on Tuesday, August 29, when a lion escaped and roamed the road.
The lion “escaped from a private vehicle”, Reuters reported – and was on the loose for about two hours before being captured.
Karachi Police said the lion was in transit when it escaped during rush hour.
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“Our teams immediately rushed here. Praise be to Allah, he is with us safely and no one is in danger now,” wildlife inspector Mukhtyar Soomro told Reuters.
Video from the scene shows the lion pulled out by the scruff of the neck.
The lion was captured after it apparently got tired of walking in traffic and wandered into the basement of a building, Reuters said.
A witness at the scene told the news agency that there was a “massive traffic jam” of media vehicles and onlookers trying to spot the lion.
Pakistan’s Wildlife Department said the lion was taken to a compound.
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“The owner of the lion has been arrested and a complaint will be filed against him,” Police Commissioner Shiraz Nazir said in a statement.
It was later reported in Pakistani media that the lion’s owner, Shamsul Haq, along with four other dependents, had been released on bail.
Although it is illegal to keep exotic animals such as lions as pets in residential areas, the practice is “not uncommon” in Pakistan, Reuters said.
“Wealthy businessmen have been known to operate private zoos and sometimes parade animals in front of the public,” the agency said.
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In court, Haq said, “I don’t want the lion” – and that “the court can award custody to anyone it deems fit”.
There was a “massive traffic jam” of media vehicles and onlookers.
Pakistani media reported that Haq and others were smuggling the lion into another province when the big cat got out of the vehicle.
At first, the five suspects tried to say the lion was sick and they were taking him to the vet, Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune reported.
That story unraveled, The Express Tribune said, when authorities detected “the presence of an elderly turtle” in the vehicle.
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On Wednesday, the medical team at Karachi Zoo, where the lion is kept, found that the lion had no health issues, casting further doubt on the story.
Haq admitted to authorities that he bought the lion about a year ago when the animal was 18 months old.
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It is still unclear how or why the lion escaped during transport.
Officials told The Express Tribune they believe he may have been “agitated” due to being transported in a very small and dilapidated cage.
Reuters contributed reporting to this article.