As authorities investigate, father says daughter mauled by lion had wanted to be near big cats
DUNLAP, Calif. — A 24-year-old intern who was described by her father as a “fearless” lover of big cats ventured into a lion enclosure at a privately owned zoo and was mauled to death, prompting investigations by several government agencies that want to know how the accident happened.
Dianna Hanson, whose Facebook page is plastered with photos of her petting tigers and other big cats, was frustrated that the exotic cat zoo in California where she had worked since January did not allow direct contact with animals, her father told The Associated Press.
“She was disappointed because she said they wouldn’t let her into the cages with the lion and tiger there,” Paul Hanson, a Seattle-area attorney, said about Cat Haven, the site of the deadly mauling on Wednesday.
Friends of Dianna Hanson recalled her passion for cat conservation.
“She was lovely. Energetic, athletic. She did everything she could to help our conservation efforts,” said Kat Combes of the Soysambu Conservancy in Kenya, where Hanson recently had volunteered to work in the Cheetah Research Center.
For reasons still being investigated, Dianna Hanson entered the enclosure of a male African lion named Cous Cous on a day that Cat Haven, 45 miles east of Fresno, was closed to the public.
The 4-year-old lion, which had lived at the park since it was a cub, attacked Hanson and was later shot by Fresno County sheriff’s deputies who were trying to reach her body.
Autopsy results revealed the reddish-haired young woman died quickly of a broken neck, possibly from a paw swipe, and the numerous bites and scratches she sustained were inflicted after she died.
On Wednesday, deputies found the mortally injured Hanson lying inside the enclosure, with Cous Cous nearby, said Fresno County sheriff’s Lt. Bob Miller.
Another park worker had failed to lure the lion into another pen, so deputies shot and killed it to reach the wounded woman, but she died at the scene, he said.
Whether Hanson ignored orders or was performing a function that placed her in danger is being investigated by Cal-OSHA, which also is trying to determine if employees were properly instructed about potential danger, as required.
“There should have been procedures that very clearly stated what the employees were required to do in order to not get killed,” said agency spokesman Peter Melton, who added that documentation about the warning had not yet been provided by Cat Haven.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act, is also looking to understand why the lion turned on the intern.
“We’re looking at whether the animal was acting in a manner leading up to that situation that maybe the staff should have been aware of,” spokesman Dave Sacks said. “Was it being fed properly? Was it under undue stress?”
USDA inspectors conduct multiple unannounced inspections of Cat Haven every year and never had found a violation, Sacks said. Federal regulations pertain only to animal treatment, and do not “cover every single instance of what a facility can and cannot do,” he said.
- I paralyze, I hypnotize and lobotomize
- Even a domesticated pet kitty will turn on you because they get nervous or are in pain.
At least she wasn't ripped apart like the bear-coddlers frequently are.
- I will never understand these types of situations.
Wild, carniverous animals kill. That's what they do.
If I'm blaming the victim, so be it.
- I agree with you Della r3. You only need to watch a few episodes of "Fatal Attractions" on Animal Planet to see how crazy these people are. They get wild cats, they under feed them, they don't let them exercise and then one fateful day they stick their arms in the cage with some food and the cats grabs and kills and eats them.
- I can't believe they killed the lion.
- I am blaming the victim, because of her actions, a beautiful animal had to be destroyed.
- Lions and Tigers and Stupidity, Oh My!
- Stupid is as stupid does.
- Someone left the gate open and the lion got out and then got her. She was on her cellphone as she was cleaning what she thought was a safe part of the cage, and never knew what hit her.
- Sorry, but if she truly loved and respected big cats, and wanted them protected, she'd have respected the need for distance. No matter what she claimed, she wanted to treat those wild cats like some exotic pet. I detest these assholes.
She was no better than Tim Treadwell.
- Oh, can someone link the gory picture of the guy who got killed by a bear? I think it was a bear. The picture was of a shin with no skin or meat inside a Nike I think.
- For all her love of the animal, she got it killed.
- Oh shut up, r10.
- [quote]Dianna Hanson, whose Facebook page is plastered with photos of her petting tigers and other big cats, was frustrated that the exotic cat zoo in California where she had worked since January did not allow direct contact with animals, her father told The Associated Press.
There is a reason for this you dumb broad. As a lover of big cats she surely had to grasp this.
- Obviously, the girl meant well; she was an excited volunteer eager to work with exotic big cats. Honestly, I think most young people would be, but yes, fatal mistake and a tragic ending.
I don't know why, but this thread reminds me of this guy (at link). If Timothy Treadwell met a grizzly end, I'm surprised this dude hasn't.
- Charles Darwin strikes again.
- Duh, here's the link.
- Get bent, R13.
- Most of you on this thread read only the title and not the actual facts that is slowly coming out.
The door was left slightly open and lion was able to escape. The dead intern was near the area. Darwinism doesn't apply unless you're someone like r16 who repeats a concept without knowing what it actually entails.
The real question is who did not secure the lion's cage and was all procedures followed?
- I heard today that the lion opened AND shut the gate himself.
- iPod? (hers or the lion's)
- Told you I was hardcore!
- What's up with the reply numbers?
- Born Free...Not of abortion
Can I have your portion
- [quote]I heard today that the lion opened AND shut the gate himself.
- I Fought the Paw and the Paw Won.
- Well done, Della. Do you supposed the lion owned an iPawed?
If so, I hope the song Maneater was on it.
- Was she menstruating?