FRESNO, Calif. — Family members of a 24-year-old intern killed by a lion at a California animal park said Friday they believe the facility followed safety protocols and the death was a tragic accident.
Investigators believe the 5-year-old male lion lifted the door of a partially closed feeding cage with its paw and killed Dianna Hanson as she cleaned a bigger enclosure area, Fresno County Coroner David Hadden has said.
Family members said they're relieved the young woman was killed instantly when the lion swiped or lunged at her.
“We're thankful to know she didn't suffer,” Hanson's brother, Paul R. Hanson, told The Associated Press.
Dianna Hanson died from a broken neck, according to a Fresno County coroner's autopsy report.
Other injuries occurred after her death, the report states.
Family members say they don't believe it was a mauling, but rather a lion's rough play that turned tragic.
“It sounds like it was an accident, maybe the latch had not been completely closed ... You know, house cats are smart, they can open doors,” Paul Hanson said. “It wasn't a vicious attack ... because you would expect severe lacerations and biting on the neck and that was not the case.”
Paul Hanson and his wife Tiffany Windle-Hanson, who was the victim's college roommate, don't believe any rules were broken at Cat Haven, the animal park run by the nonprofit group Project Survival.
“It was just a tragic accident,” Windle-Hanson said.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.