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    Man mauled by lioness in Kiev Zoo was suicidal - zoo director

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    KIEV, June 5 (RIA Novosti) - A man mauled by a lioness in Kiev Zoo Sunday was attempting to commit suicide, the zoo director said Monday, citing investigation results.

    Yevheniy Kirilyuk said the 45-year-old Ukrainian of Azerbaijani origin, who descended into the lions' enclosure on a rope and died when a lioness attacked, biting his throat, had been seen near the enclosure with four lions earlier. He said the man had asked attendants questions about lions' habits.

    Ukraine's Interior Ministry said earlier Monday that he had died instantly.

    Before his death, the man appeared to say a prayer, entered the zoo's Beast Island surrounded by a deep moat, tied a rope to the lion's enclosure, and descended.

    The victim ignored visitors' warnings and approached the lions, swinging his arms before being attacked.

    "We therefore have grounds to assert that these were premeditated actions with the aim of committing suicide," the director said.

    Kiev Zoo, one of the largest in the former Soviet Union, is home to more than 2,000 animals from around the world, and receives around 280,000 visitors every year.

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