DUNLAP (CBS/AP) — A lion killed a volunteer intern at a private wild animal sanctuary near Fresno on Wednesday.
Dianna Hanson, 26, was attacked and fatally injured around 12:30 p.m. after getting into a cage with the lion at Project Survival’s Cat Haven in Dunlap.
The facility is normally closed on Wednesdays, and only one other worker was there when the mauling happened, Fresno County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Collins said.
Investigators were trying to determine why Hanson was inside the enclosure and what might have provoked the attack.
Cat Haven’s founder and executive director Dale Anderson was crying as he read a statement about the victim.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to our friend and family and to her family during at this time,” he said.
The African lion, a 4-year-old named Cous Cous, was shot and killed by a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy after a park worker unsuccessfully tried to lure the lion into a separate pen.
The animal had been raised at Cat Haven since it was 8 weeks old, said Tanya Osegueda, a spokeswoman for Project Survival, the nonprofit that operates the animal park.
Osegueda did not know how the park acquired the cub.
Cat Haven, which is licensed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, is a private sanctuary and 100-acre wild animal park just west of Kings Canyon National Park and 45 miles east of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Since the facility opened in 1993, it has housed numerous big cats, including tigers, leopards and other exotic species.
Results of the last 13 U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections at Cat Haven show no violations dating back to March 2010. The most recent inspection was Feb. 4.
Despite state regulations requiring annual inspections, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife most recently inspected the facility in January 2011, when the inspector found it in “good condition” after checking animal health and features such as enclosures.
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