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Lion attack: Fresno County cat sanctuary set to reopen Sunday

March 10, 2013 | 10:29 am

The Fresno County cat sanctuary where an intern was killed by a lion last week was scheduled to reopen to the public Sunday, officials said.

Dianna Hanson, 26, was killed at Project Survival’s Cat Haven in Dunlap on Wednesday, when a 4-year-old male lion named Cous Cous attacked her. Another volunteer tried to lure the lion away from Hanson, but by the time authorities reached Hanson, she was dead. The cat was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies.

The park was scheduled to reopen to visitors at 10 a.m. At noon, Hanson will be honored with a moment of silence at the facility. All sanctuary volunteers will be wearing T-shirts honoring Hanson and Cous Cous.

Members of Hanson’s family have said they believe her death was an accident.

A preliminary autopsy suggested that Hanson died quickly from a fractured neck and “some suffocation,” said Fresno County Coroner David Hadden. The neck injury appeared to have come from a swipe of the lion’s paw.

The body had “numerous claw marks and bite damage” elsewhere, probably inflicted after the initial swipe, Hadden said.

Project Survival's Cat Haven houses lions, tigers, cheetahs and jaguars in enclosures on a boulder-strewn hillside about half a mile off the main road to Kings Canyon National Park. The nonprofit sanctuary, which raises money for conservation causes, gets about 10,000 visitors a year.


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-- Diana Marcum in Dunlap