(DUNLAP, Calif.) — An intern at a big cat sanctuary in Dunlap, Calif., was killed after being attacked by a lion, officials told ABC News.
“The lion was also killed,” CalFire spokesman Ryan Michaels said.
The incident occurred at around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Sierra Cat Haven in Dunlap, a small town in Fresno County near King’s Canyon National Park, authorities said.
The worker was inside the cat enclosure when the attack occurred, officials said. It was not immediately clear what the worker was doing inside the closure, or what prompted the attack.
In an interview with ABC News television affiliate KFSN, Sgt. Gregg Collins of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said responding deputies found the worker dead inside a big cat enclosure.
Authorities have not named the deceased worker, but Dale Anderson, the owner of the facility, told reporters it was a female volunteer intern, KFSN reported.
The animal involved in the attack, a male African lion, was shot by a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy who responded to a call, authorities said.
The park was closed at the time of the attack.
The reserve was founded in 1999 on 100 acres by Anderson and is home to a variety of species of big cats, including cheetahs and tigers, according to the company website.
Officials said the park has had a good history, and had an active permit to operate.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department were investigating the incident.
Tony Spada of the Fish and Wildlife Department said wildlife forensic personnel would, “look at the animal and determine if the animal did, in fact, attack the subject, and then we will have our findings. And we work closely with the homicide detectives and/or detectives working the case.”
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Parija Kavilanz, CNN
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
Betsy Klein, CNN
Dakin Andone, CNN