A 24-year-old female intern was killed Wednesday afternoon by an African lion inside a cage at an exotic cat sanctuary in California, authorities said.
The lion, a 5-year-old, 350-pound cat named Cous Cous, was shot and killed, officials said.
“Another employee had made several attempts to distract the lion away from the victim and into another enclosure prior to the deputy’s arrival, but all attempts failed,” the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
A sheriff’s deputy shot and killed the lion and then gave medical assistance to the worker, it said. “The victim died at the scene.”
The victim was identified as Dianna Hanson by her father, Paul Hanson.
Hanson released a message on Facebook about the death.
“Dianna really loved her six-month month internship at Cat Haven,” Paul Hanson wrote. “She and I drove down there from Seattle on January 1 & 2. She was so excited at working in Cat Haven and living in California. Once there, she gave me the tour and showed me all the big cats there with which she would be working.”
The head of The Jungle Jenny Foundation, which focuses on conservation of endangered species, said she had been in Cous Cous’ cage before, accompanied by a park worker.