Lion That Mauled Intern Had Escaped From Cage
Broke woman's neck as she cleaned: report
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 8, 2013 4:47 AM CST
This Oct. 12, 2012 photo shows a 4-year-old male African lion named Cous Cous at Cat Haven.   (AP Photo/JP Marketing, Vicken Massoyan)

(Newser) – The lion that killed an intern in a California animal park had escaped from its cage, and broke Dianna Hanson's neck while she was cleaning its outer enclosure, authorities say. "The gate of the cage was partially open, which allowed the lion called Cous Cous," who weighed 550 pounds, "to lift it up with his paw," the coroner says, adding that the attack killed Hanson immediately. She had been on the phone with a co-worker just before the attack; the co-worker worried when the call ended suddenly, the AP reports.

The co-worker contacted authorities, who were unable to summon the lion away from Hanson's body; that's when they shot it. Working at Cat Haven, a private zoo, Hanson had been "disappointed because she said they wouldn't let her into the cages with the lion and tiger there," her father said. The investigation continues on multiple fronts: Officials are looking into whether employees had proper safety training, and the US Department of Agriculture is investigating what might have prompted the lion's behavior.