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  1. ITV Report

Lion kills intern at animal park in California

A lion at the park in Fresno, California, where the attack took place. Photo: APTN

A female volunteer has been killed by a lion at a private wild animal park in Central California.

The 26-year-old intern was attacked and killed when she entered the lion's enclosure, according to the zoo owner Dale Anderson, who read a one sentence statement announcing the death.

He said an investigation would be launched into the death, and said in a written statement:

We take every precaution to ensure the safety of our staff, animals and guests

Sergeant Gregg Collins from Fresno County Sheriff's Office described arriving on the scene after receiving an emergency call from Cat Haven, in central California. He said the woman was severely injured and lying inside the pen, with the lion nearby.

Another park worker had unsuccessfully tried luring the lion away and into a separate pen.

Deputies shot and killed the animal so they could reach the wounded woman, who died at the scene.

The zoo is normally closed on Wednesdays, and only one other worker was there when the mauling happened.

The male African lion, a 4-year-old male named Couscous, had been raised at Cat Haven since it was a cub, said Tanya Osegueda, a spokeswoman for Project Survival, the non-profit organisation that operates the animal park.

Cat Haven is a 100-acre site close to Kings Canyon National Park, and since it opened in 1993, it has housed numerous big cats, including tigers and leopards. Couscous was one of about two dozen animals at Cat Haven, which was said to have had a good safety record.