Leon van Biljon, a beloved lion keeper at the Mahala View Lion Lodge in South Africa, was reportedly fatally mauled by one of his lions on Tuesday.
Local news platform Netwerk24 said that van Biljon was killed as he was mending a broken fence in a lion enclosure, according toreports.
According to the Mahala View Lion Lodge’s website, three lions — named Rambo, Nakita and Katryn — were kept on the property of the safari lodge, located near Cullinan, South Africa, for tourists and guests to observe. Cullinan is a small town east of Pretoria in northern South Africa.
“Leon van Biljon offers exclusive lion lectures, feedings and game drives for guests,” the Mahala View Lion Lodge’s website explained of van Biljon’s role at the safari lodge.
South African Netwerk24 reported that van Biljon owned a number of lions located at the lodge, including the one that attacked him.
According to CNN, van Biljon was widely known as “The Lion Man” due to his work at the lodge.
A spokesperson for the Cullinan Police confirmed to CNN that a 70-year-old man was killed by caged lions on Tuesday.
“The neighbours from the nearby lodges responded and tried to help the victim but unfortunately the victim succumbed to injuries,” the spokesperson said, adding, “The animals have been put down.”
According to News24, the lions were shot dead after the attack.
The Mahala View Lion Lodge mourned van Biljon’s death, writing, “Great loss for everyone. R.I.P. Uncle Leon.”