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Intern Killed in Lion Attack: Was a Gate or Door Left Partially Open?

ABC News(DUNLAP, Calif.) -- Dianna Hanson, the intern killed by a lion inside an enclosure at a big-cat sanctuary in California, died of a broken neck, a Fresno County coroner said on Thursday, although it's still unclear why the lion attacked her.

Fresno County coroner David Hadden told ABC News that he believes a gate or door was left partially open when the 4-year-old male African lion named Cous Cous attacked Hanson Wednesday afternoon.

"The cat had just been fed and there was food in the bowl and the cat had ignored the food in order to have access to this young lady," Hadden said Thursday night.

Fresno County Sheriff's Lt. Patrick Hanson, who's not related to the victim, told ABC News Thursday night that he "cannot confirm or deny which gates were working or which gates weren't working."

Dianna Hanson, 24, died instantly but Cous Cous caused additional wounds to the woman's body after her death.

"She did not suffer.  As tragic as this death is, it's important to know that she wasn't alive for a long time," Hadden said.

Less than 30 minutes after the attack began, Cous Cous was shot by a Fresno County sheriff's deputy who responded to a call, authorities said.

The body of the 500-pound lion is now at a vet facility in Tulare County awaiting a necropsy to determine what may have caused the fatal attack.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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