ABC News’ Aditi Roy reports:
A Canadian teen is recovering in a South African hospital after she was attacked by a lion at a wildlife rehabilitation center, leaving her body with what she calls “huge rips” and “holes.”
The attack took place last week at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa, where Lauren Fagan was a student volunteer.
“I knew that lions were strong but I don’t think you’ll understand how strong a lion is until you feel his force,” Fagan, 18, told ABC News in a Skype interview overnight.
The attack happened while Fagen was in a feeding room with the male lion named Duma, who was behind bars. Fagan thought she was out of reach, but the lion caught on to her leg through the cage and didn’t let go.
“That’s when fear set in, because you couldn’t be logical anymore when your left knee is stuck and you can’t pull it out and it was bleeding,” she said. “I just said, ‘It’s stuck there, he’s going to bite the whole thing off.’”
All Fagan could do was scream for help until two of her colleagues sprang into action, grabbing brooms and poking at Duma. By the time help arrived, Fagen’s colleagues also had to fight off a lioness name Tree, who joined the attack on the teen.
“He was scratching me and biting me in a playful manner, but it’s not playful when I’m not a lion,” she said. “I think that he thought that I was a lion because he wasn’t growling.”
Fagen was released from the hospital Monday and says doctors told her she should be fully recovered by September.
Others haven’t been as lucky as Fagan to escape the jaws of a lion. Four months ago, 24-year-old intern Dianna Hanson died at a California animal sanctuary after a 550-pound male lion escaped from a feeding pen and pounced on her.
Fagan says her two-minute attack left her physically wounded, but not emotionally scarred.
“I will continue to work with animals for the rest of my life, probably through volunteer work,” she said. “But nothing has changed.”