Lion Mauls Intern to Death at California Cat Haven

24-year-old woman dies; the animal was shot after the attack.

This Oct. 12, 2012 photo released by JP Marketing shows a 4-year-old male African lion named Cous Cous at Cat Haven, a private wild animal park in Dunlap, Calif.
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A young woman who spent her free time volunteering at Project Survival's Cat Haven near Fresno, Calif., died Wednesday after being mauled by a male lion named Cous Cous.

Dianna Hanson, 24, was "inside the African lion enclosure with an adult male African lion" at the rare cat animal sanctuary when members of the Fresno County Sheriff's Department arrived on scene, according to a police statement cited by NBC Los Angeles.

"Another employee had made several attempts to distract the lion away from the victim and into another enclosure prior to the deputy's arrival, but all attempts failed," the release said. "Deputies shot and killed the lion to provide medical attention to the victim."

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Hanson tragically died on scene from her injuries. It's not immediately clear what provoked the lion to attack her.

Cat Haven's website touts volunteering as an opportunity for enthusiastic animal lovers over the age of 16 to gain "work experience and an introduction to the jobs associated with a zoological facility." Before becoming a volunteer, the site says, training must be given that "covers how to give a good tour and observe safety procedures."

The 100-acre park, which is funded in part by charging a modest admission fee, has been operated since 1993 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The New York Post reports that on Tuesday another young woman half a world away, in Zimbabwe, was also mauled to death by a lion while enjoying a private moment with her boyfriend, who reportedly watched the carnage in horror. My Zimbabwe reported the gruesome details, including photos, of that attack.

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