Local media reported the man’s ‘mutilated blood’ drenched body found with multiple bites inside the animal’s cage.
The panther, identified as Milan, ‘bit through the man’s neck’ after pouncing on the Ukrainian aged between 25 and 30 upon unlocking the entrance to the cage.
The panther escaped through the open door.
It wasn’t immediately clear what led to the ‘victim’ seeking to enter the black panther’s habitat.
Local media reported the ‘predator’ caught ‘several hours later’ following a major search.
Initial reports said the dead man was a keeper.
But millionaire zoo owner Sergey Knyaginichev denied this, claiming the man was a visitor from Ukraine who should never have gone inside the cage reported the dailymail.
He did not explain why the man was wearing a keeper’s uniform when he was killed.
The owner blamed the man for the incident and refused to put down the panther, saying that the victim wasn’t working in his zoo.
An autopsy was being carried out on the body of the Ukrainian man.
Knyaginichev claimed the man may have been drunk.
The attack was at a private zoo in the village of Obnovlenny Trud – meaning ‘Renewed Labour’ – in the Istra district of Moscow region.
Locals said there were no previous incidents at the private zoo.
Told a neighbor, ‘The only problem was hearing a lion’s loud and somewhat annoying roar’.
The zoo includes other big cats including a lion and tiger.
Local residents expressed shocked over the incident and said 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.
The Investigative Committee – which deals with serious crimes in Russia – said a probe has been launched into the accident reported RT.
Told a spokesman, ‘The man wanted to feed the animal and the panther attacked him when he entered the cage’.
Of note, the zoo owner is described as the general manager of Business Aero Airlines in Moscow.
A TV report five years ago told of his wife Yelena’s lion having terrorized the local village.
The report claimed residents were nervous about dangers from the big cats in the private zoo.
Noted local media, ‘Residents of the Podmoskovny village of the Renewed Pond complained about the dangerous neighborhood of the private menagerie – they were afraid to walk along the street, despite the positive responses about the owner of the predator. According to one of the neighbors, no one could guarantee that the animal would not run out of the cage.’
Of note, upon hearing of the death of the Ukrainian man, some locals said they’d wished it was the owner who had been mauled instead.
The zoo has been open around ten years. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the private zoo will remain open.