Commuters in Karachi, Pakistan experienced an unusual traffic jam on Tuesday, August 29, when a lion escaped and was roaming about the road.
The lion “escaped from a private vehicle,” Reuters reported — and was on the lam for about two hours before it was captured.
Karachi police said the lion was in transit when it made its great escape during rush-hour traffic.
“Our teams rushed here immediately. Praise be to Allah, it is with us safely and no one is in danger now,” wildlife inspector Mukhtyar Soomro told Reuters.
Video from the scene shows the lion being led out by the scruff of its neck.
The lion was captured after it apparently grew bored with walking through traffic and wandered into the basement of a building, said Reuters.
A witness at the scene told the news agency that there was a “massive traffic jam” of both media vehicles and curious onlookers who were trying to spot the lion.
Pakistan’s Wildlife Department said the lion had been taken to a compound.
“The owner of the lion has been detained and a case will be registered against him,” Senior Superintendent of Police Shiraz Nazir said in a statement.
It was later reported in Pakistani media that the lion’s owner, Shamsul Haq, along with four other dependents, had been given bail.
While it is illegal to keep exotic animals such as lions, as pets in residential areas, the practice is “not uncommon” in Pakistan, said Reuters.
“Wealthy businessmen have been known to operate private zoos and sometimes parade the animals for the public,” said the agency.
In court, Haq stated, “I don’t want the lion” — and that the “court may hand over its custody to anyone it deems fit.”
Pakistani media reported it is thought that Haq and others were in the process of illegally smuggling the lion to another province when the big cat got out of the vehicle.
Initially, the five suspects tried to say that the lion was sick and that they were taking it to see the veterinarian, said Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune.
That story fell apart, said The Express Tribune, when officials detected “the presence of an aged tortoise” in the vehicle.
On Wednesday, the medical team at the Karachi Zoo, where the lion is being held, found that the lion had no health problems, further casting doubt on the story.
Haq admitted to officials that he bought the lion about a year ago, when the animal was 18 months old.
It is still unclear as to how or why the lion escaped in transit.
Officials told The Express Tribune that they believe it could have gotten “agitated” from being transported in a very small and dilapidated cage.
Reuters contributed reporting to this article.