Intern Mauled to Death at Big Cat Sanctuary
Dianna Hanson had started California internship in January
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2013 7:18 AM CST
This Oct. 12, 2012 photo shows a 4-year-old male African lion named Couscous at Cat Haven, a private wild animal park in Dunlap, Calif. Couscous reportedly killed an intern yesterday at the sanctuary.   (AP Photo/JP Marketing, Vicken Massoyan)

(Newser) – Tragedy in California yesterday, where a 24-year-old was mauled to death by a lion at a big cat sanctuary. The AP identifies the victim as Dianna Hanson, an intern at Project Survival's Cat Haven whose father described her as "absolutely fearless." The Los Angeles Times reports on a still-perplexing series of events: Hanson, who had only been interning since January, was one of just two volunteers at the 93-acre park yesterday around noon, the time at which the lions, tigers, cheetahs, and jaguars are reportedly fed. Fresno County police received word of the attack around 12:30pm; deputies shot and killed the lion as they attempted to rescue Hanson, who was declared dead at the scene.

The Times explains that the standard procedure is to leave the food in a small enclosure, exit it, then allow the animals to enter in from the larger space they inhabit. Per the sanctuary's guidelines, Hanson should never have been in the enclosure when the animals were, and it's still unclear why or how that occurred. Police say the other volunteer attempted to coax the lion, a 4-year-old male named Cous Cous, away from Hanson. The facility has been in operation for 20 years and has generally received good grades from inspectors, notes the AP.

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Mar 8, 2013 4:19 PM CST
I'm sorry that she had to die, but she was on her cell phone (NOT PAYING ANY ATTENTION TO HER SURROUNDINGS) and was in a cage when she was told not to be there in the first place. So you see being on a cell phone CAN be dangerous to you health but will anyone listen....??????????
Mar 8, 2013 2:33 AM CST
Another beautiful animal murdered because of stupid humans. I saw on the news that this type of lion doesn't even exist in the wild anymore. I love big cats, too, and would love to work in a sanctuary or something, but I would never be stupid enough to think I had some "special way" with one of the cats and that I could safely invade its cage. Heck, I'm in a wheelchair today because of a vicious attack by a two year old house cat. (Not my very docile Samhain.)
Mar 7, 2013 7:18 PM CST
poor kitty just wanted lunch and got darwined instead!!!!