A zookeeper at a Nigerian university has been killed by one of the lions he had been looking after for close to a decade.

Olabode Olawuyi, who was in charge of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) zoo, was attacked as he was feeding the lions, the OAU said.

His colleagues were unable to save him as “the wild cat had already caused severe fatalities”, the university added in a statement.

The lion has since been put down.

The zookeeper, a veterinary technologist, had been “taking care of the lions since they were born on campus about nine years ago”.

“But, tragically, the male lion killed the man who had been feeding them,” the OAU said.

Nigerians on social media have been sharing graphic images of the incident at the federal government-owned university in Osun state, in the south-west.

The news of the incident is said to have sent the university community into mourning.

The university sent a team to the family of the deceased to console them.

Its vice-chancellor, Prof Adebayo Simeon Bamire, said he was “saddened” by the incident and ordered a thorough investigation “into the immediate and remote causes of the incident”.

The university students’ union leader, Abbas Akinremi, told Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper that the attack was caused by “human error” after the zookeeper had forgotten to lock the door after feeding.

He described the incident as unfortunate, while paying tribute to the deceased zookeeper as a “good and humble man, who attended to us nicely whenever we went to the zoo”.

Credit: BBC