A FEMALE volunteer has been killed by a lion at a private wild animal park.
Cat Haven founder Dale Anderson was crying as he read a one-sentence statement about the fatal mauling at the exotic animal zoo in central California that he has operated since 1993.
The 26-year-old intern was attacked and killed yesterday when she entered the lion's enclosure, Mr Anderson said, but he refused to provide more details.
He said Project Survival would investigate to see if the woman and another worker who was on-site followed the group's protocols.
"We take every precaution to ensure the safety of our staff, animals and guests," he said in a written statement.
Sheriff's deputies responding to an emergency call from Cat Haven, in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Fresno, found the woman severely injured and still lying inside the enclosure with the lion nearby.
Another park worker had unsuccessfully tried luring the lion away. Deputies shot the animal so they could reach the wounded woman but she died at the scene.
The zoo is normally closed on Wednesdays, and only one other worker was there when the mauling happened.