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Entries in Lion Attack (3)

Monday
Mar112013

California Animal Sanctuary Reopens in Wake of Lion Attack

ABC News(DUNLAP, Calif.) -- The California animal sanctuary where an African lion killed a 24-year-old volunteer intern reopened on Sunday.

Dale Anderson, the founder of Project Survival Cat Haven outside Fresno, said the sanctuary was reopened to visitors with the consent of the victim’s parents.

Authorities say Dianna Hanson died almost instantly of a broken neck last Wednesday afternoon after she was attacked when she entered the enclosure of a 4-year-old male lion.  The lion was shot and killed by deputies who were called to the scene.  A moment of silence was observed Sunday in honor of the Hanson.

Anderson said it was important to return back to normal operations, and “Dianna would really want us to do that.”

Fresno County Sheriff’s Department investigators believe the tragedy occurred because someone accidentally left a door open that allowed the lion to enter the enclosure where Hanson was working.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar082013

Intern Killed in Lion Attack: Was a Gate or Door Left Partially Open?

ABC News(DUNLAP, Calif.) -- Dianna Hanson, the intern killed by a lion inside an enclosure at a big-cat sanctuary in California, died of a broken neck, a Fresno County coroner said on Thursday, although it's still unclear why the lion attacked her.

Fresno County coroner David Hadden told ABC News that he believes a gate or door was left partially open when the 4-year-old male African lion named Cous Cous attacked Hanson Wednesday afternoon.

"The cat had just been fed and there was food in the bowl and the cat had ignored the food in order to have access to this young lady," Hadden said Thursday night.

Fresno County Sheriff's Lt. Patrick Hanson, who's not related to the victim, told ABC News Thursday night that he "cannot confirm or deny which gates were working or which gates weren't working."

Dianna Hanson, 24, died instantly but Cous Cous caused additional wounds to the woman's body after her death.

"She did not suffer.  As tragic as this death is, it's important to know that she wasn't alive for a long time," Hadden said.

Less than 30 minutes after the attack began, Cous Cous was shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy who responded to a call, authorities said.

The body of the 500-pound lion is now at a vet facility in Tulare County awaiting a necropsy to determine what may have caused the fatal attack.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar072013

Intern in Lion Attack Died of Broken Neck

ABC News(DUNLAP, Calif.) -- Dianna Hanson, the 24-year-old intern killed by a lion inside an enclosure at a big cat sanctuary in California, died of a broken neck, a Fresno County coroner revealed Thursday.

The coroner said that Hanson died instantly and that the 4-year-old male African lion named Cous Cous caused additional wounds to the woman's body after her death.

The body of the 500-pound lion, shot dead after killing Hanson, is now at a vet facility in Tulare County awaiting a necropsy to determine what may have caused the fatal attack.

Hanson was two months into an internship program at the Cat Haven in Dunlap, a small town in Fresno County near King's Canyon National Park, when she was killed.

Her father said Thursday that she never feared working with big cats, but he always feared something might happen to her.

"Anybody who works with cats knows that they are wild animals and they can turn even on people closest to them. So I always had this horrible, nagging premonition that I would get a call like this," Hanson's father, Paul, told ABC News overnight by phone from his home in Washington state.

Hanson said his daughter loved to be around big cats and that working with them was her true passion in life.

Dianna Hanson was inside the cat enclosure when a Cous Cous attacked her around 12:30 p.m., officials said. It was not immediately clear what Hanson was doing inside the enclosure or what prompted the attack.

Another employee tried unsuccessfully to lure Cous Cous away from Hanson and into another enclosure.

Less than 30 minutes after Hanson entered the cage, Cous Cous was shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy who responded to a call, authorities said.

"The lion was shot and killed per our safety protocols," Dale Anderson, founder and executive director of Project Survival Cat Haven, which manages Cat Haven, said Wednesday.

The park was closed at the time of the attack.

Hanson's grief-stricken father is now left with the question of why his daughter was in the enclosure with the lion.

"How she ever got inside the cage and why she would be inside the cage [is unclear], because I thought she made it real clear that they don't let anybody in the cage except the owner," Paul Hanson said.

In a statement on Facebook, Hanson reflected on his daughter's time working at the sanctuary.

"Once there, she gave me the tour and showed me all the big cats there with which she would be working. Of course, Dianna being Dianna, her favorites were the tiger and the lion ... who killed her today," he said.

Dianna Hanson trained with three tigers and a lion while in college at Western Washington State University. She also traveled to Africa to work with large cats, Paul Hanson said.

"Di, we will always love you. And we will miss you so much. But I know that you will be happy. For now, you truly are in the eternal 'Cat Haven,'" Paul Hanson said in the statement.

The sanctuary will remain closed to the public Thursday.

Cous Cous was raised at the preserve from 8 weeks old, and even made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show when he was a cub.

Cat Haven was founded in 1993 and is run by Project Survival, a privately funded education and conservation organization.

The 100-acre facility is home to a variety of wild cats -- including tigers, leopards and other threatened and endangered species that are kept for limited breeding and use in educational programs, according to Cat Haven's website.

Officials said the park has had a good history, and had an active permit to operate.

Cat Haven also runs an outreach program, and its "cat ambassadors" may sometimes be taken off-site to make appearances as part of that program, according to the website.

The preserve is run by a core staff supported by volunteers.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that an internship is required by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in order to work at an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium. No such requirement is in place, according to AZA Senior Vice President Steve Feldman.


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