A trip to the zoo turned tragic for a Palestinian boy as he was mauled to death by a lion in the Gaza Strip.

The 6-year-old boy, identified as Hamada Iqtiet, visited a private zoo in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis on Monday with his mother and other family members. He climbed a fence inside the Asdaa Park and found himself at an opening to the lion's cage, police said, AP News reported. The lion then mauled the child to death.

"The police decided to temporarily close the entertainment city 'Asda'a' in Khan Yunis, pending the completion of investigations and taking safety measures in the place," Ayman Batniji, a police spokesman, as quoted by Daijiworld.

The young victim's family gave a different account of the boy's trip to the zoo. Relatives said Iqtiet had only made his way to an outer fence, where the lion was standing. The animal then attacked the child, who sustained fatal injuries.

It is reportedly the first known case of an animal kept at a private zoo in the Palestinian territory launching a fatal attack on a visitor.

The impoverished Palestinian territory of Gaza has a number of small private zoos, where animals reportedly suffer neglect and starvation and do not receive adequate medical attention. These animals are caught up in the fighting between Israel and Gaza's ruling Hamas militant group and, consequently, suffer in the deplorable conditions of the private zoos.

Animal welfare groups have made efforts in the past to move these animals to more suitable environments.

A similar incident was reported in 2021 after a 2-year-old girl was attacked by a lion at a zoo in Yemen. The child, identified as Donia Idris Hammoud, had put her hand inside the lion's cage while her father was clicking photographs. The big cat mauled the girl, who was critically injured and had to have her hand amputated. Her father reportedly fell into a coma after witnessing the lion bite his daughter's hand.

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