Lion Attacks and Kills Girl at California Sanctuary, Cat Haven – California
Published on 6 Mar 2013 By Minirales
I felt for that girl See realtime coverage Lion fatally mauls woman
at Calif. sanctuaryLion Attacks and Kills Girl at California Sanctuary, Cat Haven – California
DUNLAP, CALIF. A male African lion killed a worker on Wednesday at a private wild animal park in Central California where the cat had been raised since it was a cub, authorities said.
The worker was attacked and fatally injured after getting into an enclosure with the lion at Cat Haven in Dunlap, Calif., Fresno County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Collins said. The founder of the park, Dale Anderson, said the worker killed was a female intern-volunteer. The sheriff’s office originally said the worker was male.
Sheriff’s Deputy at Cat Haven following fatal attack. / KPGE
Investigators were trying to determine why the worker was inside the enclosure and what might have provoked the attack, Collins said.
The facility, which is licensed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, is about 45 miles east of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada foothills. It is normally closed on Wednesdays, and only one other worker was there when the mauling happened, Collins said.
He said the county received an emergency call from Cat Haven about 12:30 p.m., and a second call 20 minutes later reporting the injured person had died.
A call to Cat Haven on Wednesday went unanswered.
CBS affiliate KGPE reports that the lion has been shot and killed.
The lion, a 4-year-old male named Couscous, had been raised at Cat Haven since it was 8 weeks old, said Tanya Osegueda, a spokeswoman for Project Survival, the nonprofit that operates Cat Haven.
Osegueda did not know how the park acquired the cub.
Cat Haven is a 100-acre wild animal park just west of Kings Canyon National Park. Since the property opened in 1993, it has housed numerous big cats, including tigers, leopards and other exotic species.
Couscous was one of about two dozen animals at Cat Haven, which has had a good safety record, Spada said.
Another big cat sanctuary, Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla., told the AP 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.
Tatiana, a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo, was killed by police after jumping out of its enclosure and fatally mauling 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr. and injuring two other people in 2007.
Cat Haven has housed Bengal tigers, Siberian lynx, caracals, jaguars and leopards of various types as well as bobcats native to the area. Its founder Dale 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 one place.
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“The lion was also killed,” CalFire spokesman Ryan Michaels told ABC News.com.
The incident occurred at around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Sierra Cat Haven in Dunlap, a small town in Fresno County near King’s Canyon National Park, authorities said.
The worker was inside the cat enclosure when the attack occurred, officials said. It was not immediately clear what the worker was doing inside the closure, or what prompted the attack.
In an interview with KFSN, Sgt. Gregg Collins of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said responding deputies found the worker dead inside a big cat enclosure.
Authorities have not named the deceased worker, but Dale Anderson, the owner of the facility, told reporters it was a female volunteer intern, KFSN reported. Anderson reportedly was crying as he read a statement to the media.
The animal involved in the attack, 4-year-old male African lion named Couscous, was shot by a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy who responded to a call, authorities said.
Prior to sheriff’s deputies’ arrival on the scene, another employee had tried unsuccessfully to lure Couscous away from the victim and into another enclosure.
The park was closed at the time of the attack.
Tony Spada of the Fish and Wildlife Department said wildlife forensic personnel would “look at the animal and determine if the animal did, in fact, attack the subject, and then we will have our findings. And we work closely with the homicide detectives and/or detectives working the case.”
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 which 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, the website said.
The preserve is run by a core staff supported by volunteers.
Couscous had been raised at the preserve since he was a cub.