Surabaya. Local police have decided to end their investigation into the Jan. 7 death of a male lion at the Surabaya Zoo after concluding that the animal’s death had not been caused by zoo staff.
“The lion died because it was strangled by the sling used to close the pen. It was able to reach out to the sling himself,” said Sr. Comr. Farman, chief of Surabaya Police’s detective unit.
He added that police had drawn the conclusion after investigating the location of his death and taking into account expert opinions.
Farman said the lion, named Michael, may have learnt to reach the steel cables that secured the cage as his keepers would usually feed him from above.
Rahmat Suharta, a veterinarian at the zoo, meanwhile said the lion was still very aggressive, especially at night — the time of his death — which was why zoo officials had not placed him in a display cage.
The police’s conclusion on the matter is similar to an analysis by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA).
During a hearing with the Surabaya legislature on Jan. 13, Widodo, head of the East Java BKSDA’s Area 3, said it was the lion’s aggressive nature that led to its death.
“Michael was still 17 months old, at this age, lions are very aggressive. Additionally, Michael’s pen is located near that of a female lion,” Widodo said.
Farman said despite having closed the investigation into the lion’s death, police would continue investigating other animal deaths at the Surabaya Zoo.
With the young lion’s death, there are now only four African lions left at the zoo. The lion had been rescued by the East Java BKSDA before it was sent to the Surabaya zoo in March last year.