Lion Attack Kills Intern, 24, at California Sanctuary

Authorities are trying to figure out what caused the lion to attack her.
4:53 | 03/07/13

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Transcript for Lion Attack Kills Intern, 24, at California Sanctuary
To that stunning attack by a lion at a california wildlife sanctuary that left a 24-year-old intern dead. She was in the cage at the time it happened and authorities are trying to figure out why this morning and abc's cecilia vega has the very latest from los angeles. Good morning, cecilia. Reporter: Amy, good morning. Boy, what really happened inside that park remains a mystery. Something caused this lion to snap and turn on this intern. Her family tells me she was so new to the job she wasn't even supposed to be inside the cage. This morning a team of investigators is trying to figure out what made the lion turn on dianna hanson in this wild animal mark near fresno wednesday. The lion has been taken care of. Reporter: Police say the attack began around 12:30. The 24-year-old ink tern who had just two months on the job at cat haven was inside an enclosure with this 4-year-old african lion named couscous. Another park worker frantically tried to distract the cat as it mauled hanson but nothing worked. Less than 30 minutes after hanson had entered the cage sheriff's deputies arrive add and began firing hoping to reach her, it was too late. The lion was shot and killed per our safety protocols. Reporter: Overnight hanson's father spoke with abc news. How she ever got inside the cage, and why she would be inside the cage because i thought she made it real clear they don't let anyone in the cage except the owner. Reporter: Right now it's closed to the public and state wildlife officials will do a necropsy on the animal to see what caused the attack. This is a situation where you had -- somebody was too close to the lion. Reporter: The park's owner said overnight the lion had been raised there since it was just 8 weeks old. It even made an appearance on "ellen" when it was a club. Look at those claws. Reporter: This morning hanson's father said her daughter never feared working with big cats even though her parents feared the worst. Anybody who works with cats know that they are wild animals and they can turn even on people that are closest to them. So I always had this horrible, nagging premonition that I would get a call like this. Now, dianna hanson was working in this park as a step to move toward a job at a bigger zoo and her family told me she was fascinated by bigats all r life, a dream job and now has a tragic ending. Thanks very much. More from our good friend jack hanna director emeritus of the columbus zoo. What was she doing in her cage, the father wants to know. Hard to say because she was by herself and what I read early this morning is that her boyfriend or someone was there. Sometimes we do things at times when we're trying not to impress somebody but show somebody what we can do. As I said last night when i heard this, it makes no sense because this facility has been approved, it's a very fine facility what have I've heard. I have not been there but no one can go in with a large cat. Protocol was have two or three in there. So why would she get the key and get in there. Some have a fascination with big cats lions being the king of beasts, magnificent animal. Who knows what hers were? Maybe the only one who might know would be the boyfriend. This was clearly against the rules and protocols of this facility? Exactly. Exactly. Her statement according to the "l.A. Times" said she was totally fearless of animals. Wherever we work would them we have a comfort zone of the As you know from "good morning america," comfort zone animal and comfort zone of us to a large an mrool like this. Comfort zones are crossed, george, there is a train wreck. Obviously the comfort zone of this lion was crossed and at that point a lion did what he has to do. What set it off, I don't know. These are wild animals and these things happen. Have tens of thousands in zoos and these happen and they're rare but a tragedy for the family and owner of that facility. Bottom line these facilities worth the risk? Yes, they're worth the risk because right now we probably have more lions and tigers in this country in backyards, so to speak, I'm not talking about those -- in backyards for pets and that type of thing than we have probably in all the zoos put in the country together. They are still there. We have to have these good sanctuaries to help us because in the zoo we can't take all these cats because of breeding programs. Someone has to do this like ohio law and passed the most stringent, governor casey did. We had 200 tigers in backyards when this all happened last year. And now those 200 tigers will not be there anymore and by anothew months if the people don't make the correct regulations. Now we have to have sanctuaries put these cats in if we have to take them.

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