Pictured: Animal sanctuary intern, 24, who was mauled to death by a lion
inside its cage as she worked on her 'dream job'
- Dianna Hanson was inside a 350-pound African lion's cage when it attacked on Wednesday
- Lion was shot dead after police were unable to lure animal away from its victim
- Dianna's father says it was her dream job caring for big cats
- Investigation underway into why she was inside the lion's enclosure
18:54 EST, 6 March 2013
06:21 EST, 7 March 2013
A 24-year-old intern has been
fatally mauled by an African lion after entering its cage at a private
animal sanctuary in California on Wednesday.
Dianna Hanson was volunteering at Cat Haven sanctuary in Dunlap when she was tragically attacked after getting into the male lion's cage.
really loved her six-month month internship at Cat Haven,' Her father,
Paul Hanson, wrote on Facebook. '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.'
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Killed: Dianna Hanson, a 24-year-old intern
whose dream job was working with big cats, was tragically killed after
entering a lion's cage at a California wildlife sanctuary on Wednesday
Care giver: Ms Hanson started her six-month internship at the cat sanctuary in January, seen here with one of the tigers
The four-year-old, 350-pound lion named Couscous was
shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy after a worker was unable to lure
the giant cat away from the young woman as she lay inside the enclosure
Cat Haven founder and executive director
Dale Anderson was crying as he read a one-sentence statement about the
fatal mauling at the exotic animal zoo he has operated since 1993.
Ms Hanson was attacked and killed when she entered the lion's enclosure, he said.
He refused to take questions from reporters.
'Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family at this critical time,' said Mr Anderson.
Ms Hanson's Facebook page shows
previous work listed as an intern with the Snow Leopard Trust in
Seattle, Washington while a student at Western Washington University, as
well as serving as a research volunteer at the Soysambu Conservancy in
recent work listed was serving as a lifeguard and swim instructor. There
she described her work as: 'I am here to save lives.'
Mauling: Ms Hanson was volunteering at
California's Cat Haven sanctuary when she was fatally mauled after
entering the cage of this 350-pound African lion
Work experience: Ms Hanson's Facebook page shows
previous work listed as an intern with the Snow Leopard Trust in
Seattle, Washington as well as serving as a research volunteer at the
Soysambu Conservancy in Nakura
Pleasurable work: In a message on Facebook Ms
Hanson's father said that his daughter really loved the work she did for
the sanctuary, she's seen posing before two cheetahs with a smile
Mr Hanson said his daughter had loved lions and tigers since she was a little girl.
While studying at WWU he says she cared for a few animals owned by a family living near the campus, King5 reports.
Investigators were trying to determine why Ms Hanson was inside the enclosure and what might have provoked the
attack, Fresno County sheriff's Sgt. Greg Collins said.
County Emergency Medical Services say they received a call to the
sanctuary around 12.32pm on Wednesday but by 12.52 the call was
cancelled because the victim had already died, the Fresno Bee reports.
The Fresno County Sheriff's Office
explained their choice to shoot the cat in a news release following the
attack, stating: '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 lion had been hand raised at the sanctuary since it was eight-months old, said Tanya Osegueda, a spokeswoman for Project Survival, the nonprofit that operates Cat Haven.
Cat Haven is a private 100-acre non-profit animal sanctuary just west of Kings Canyon National Park.
Tragedy: Cat Haven founder and executive
director Dale Anderson was crying as he addressed the attack that took
both the intern and the lion's lives at his park, pictured
Questions: An investigation is now underway into
why the intern entered the cage of the four-year-old lion named
Couscous photographed here in 2012
The site is about 45 miles east of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Since the property opened in 1993, it has housed numerous big cats, including tigers, leopards and other exotic species.
'This facility has a very good history,' Lt. Tony Spada of state Fish & Wildlife told the Fresno Bee. 'In this case, someone just got too close.'
sanctuary boasts more intimate relationships with their cats, with videos showing
their handlers interacting one-on-one with the animals inside their cages.
started the Cat Haven with the idea that giving people a better
experience with cats, and hopefully they become interested when they see
them and hear them and hopefully they'll want to take an active role in
conservation for cats in the wild,' said Cat Haven's founder Dale
Anderson speaking to Fox News in February.
The sanctuary is permitted to house
exotic animals by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and is
regulated as a zoo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Killed: The four-year-old lion named Couscous, seen here with a female
named Pely, was shot dead by emergency personnel responding to the scene
Human raised: The sanctuary says they raised the lion, pictured, by hand when it arrived at their facility at eight-months old
of the last 13 inspections by the Department of Agriculture's Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service show no violations dating back to
March 2010. The most recent inspection was Feb. 4, USDA records show.
Despite state regulations that
require annual inspections, the California Department of Fish and
Wildlife most recently inspected the facility in January 2011.
'We have to do the best we can with the resources we're provided,' said department spokeswoman Jordan Traverso.
The inspector's written comments were
'facility in good condition.' The inspector checked gates, enclosures,
water supplies, drainage, cleanliness, ventilation and the general
health of the animals.
spokeswoman Janice Mackey said she was unaware if any state regulations
would prohibit an employee from entering an exotic animal's enclosure.
She said each species is identified on the permit, and the animals must be used for scientific or educational purposes only.
'We don't allow them to be used as pets,' Mackey said.
Loved: Mr Anderson is seen scratching one of his
sanctuary's lions back in February for an interview that he hoped would
inspire others to get to know and help the giant cats
Tippi Hedren, who founded the Shambala Preserve in Southern California,
home to 53 seized or abandoned exotic pets, expressed dismay over the
killing of the lion.
wasn't the lion's fault. It's the human's fault always. I've got 40
years behind me. I know what I'm talking about,' Hedren said.
A movie was made at Shambala several years ago and several people were injured. 'Two were nearly killed,' she said.
are one of the four most dangerous animals in the world. There is
nothing you can do. When they get a thought pattern, there is nothing
short of a bullet to the brain that will stop them,' Hedren said.
Nicole Paquette, vice president of the Human Society of the United States, voiced similar concerns.
should have never been in the enclosure with him,' Paquette said of the
victim. 'These are big cats that are extremely dangerous, and they
placed a volunteer in the actual cage with a wild animal. That should
have never happened.'
Sanctuary: The Cat Haven sanctuary, a non-profit
opened in 1993, is on 100-acres of private land, pictured, just west of
Kings Canyon National Park
Officials at another big cat
sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla., told The Associated Press last
year that at least 21 people, including five children, have been killed
and 246 mauled by exotic cats since 1990. Over that period, 254 cats
escaped and 143 were killed.
a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo, was killed by police after jumping
out of its enclosure and fatally mauling a 17-year-old boy and injuring
two other people in 2007.
Haven has housed Bengal tigers, Siberian lynx, caracals, jaguars and
leopards of various types as well as bobcats native to the area.
Anderson described the private zoo several years ago as one of a handful
of facilities across the U.S. that has all of the big cat species in
facility's website says it promotes conservation and preservation of
wild cats in their native habitats and offers visitors tours and
said Project Survival would investigate to see if the intern and the
other worker who was on-site followed the group's protocols.
'We take every precaution to ensure the safety of our staff, animals and guests,' he said in a written statement.