A 24-year-old intern at a Fresno County wild cat park has been killed in a fatal attack by a lion. The Los Angeles Times reported that Dianna Hanson died on Wednesday after it appears that a lion escaped a smaller enclosure.
The woman's body was found inside the enclosure, which she had been cleaning. The lion, a 4-year-old male lion named Cous Cous had just been fed in the enclosure and details are murky as how the lion escaped. The wild cat park is called Project Survival's Cat Haven and The LA Times reported that upon inspection it seems that the den where the lion was feeding was separated by a gate that could be lifted up.
Reports from officials say that during the attack another volunteer tried to help lure the lion away from the victim but couldn't.
The animal was shot and killed by the Sherriff's deputies when they arrived at the scene but when rescuers were able to get to Hanson it was too late to save her.
resno County Coroner David Hadden said to the LA Times that from an autopsy it suggests that she died from a fractured neck and some suffocation. "The neck injury appeared to come from a swipe from the lion's paw. The body had "numerous claw marks and bite damage" elsewhere, likely inflicted after the initial swipe," Hadden noted to The LA Times.
Hanson was from the Seattle, Washington area and the Associated Press reported that she loved lions and tigers since she was a child. Her father said on Wednesday to the AP that she was "absolutely fearless" around the animals and hoped to work at the zoo after her internship was over.
"She was at ease with those big cats," Paul Hanson, said about his daughter to the AP. "They liked her."
He added that it was a dream job for her and said to the AP that she gave him a tour of Cat Haven when he dropped her off on Jan. 2 and showed him the lion Cous Cous, who killed her.
The AP reported that Cat Haven founder and executive director Dale Anderson cried and said, "I feel awful."
Investigators are now trying to find out why she was inside the enclosure and what might have provoked the fatal attack.
"California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Janice Mackey said she was unaware if any state regulations would prohibit an employee from entering an exotic animal's enclosure," reported the AP.
"Anybody that encountered Dianna couldn't help being enraptured with her and with her enthusiasm," said Dianna Hanson's older brother, Paul Hanson. "She knew the risks and we knew the risks, but that was her passion. You always wondered when she was going to work, but the risks were part of that."
© 2023 Travelers Today. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.