By Laila Kearney ,Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO — A 24-year-old intern killed by an African lion at a California wildlife sanctuary died almost instantly after the big cat broke her neck, a coroner said on Thursday, amid media reports that the animal may have escaped from its pen to attack her. The Cat Haven, a private sanctuary east of Fresno, remained closed on Thursday, a day after Dianna Hanson was killed by a 350-lb (160-kg) male Barbary lion named Cous Cous that attacked her inside an enclosure. Hanson was from the Seattle area. “The young lady did not suffer because she died almost instantly from a fractured neck,” Fresno County Coroner Dr. David Hadden told Reuters. An autopsy conducted on Thursday showed bite and claw marks on Hanson from “the lion playing with the body like a cat would play with a mouse,” Hadden said.
Hadden told several news organizations, including CNN and the Fresno Bee newspaper, that the lion may have used its paw to pry open a gate separating its pen from the larger enclosure to attack Hanson while she was cleaning it. But that could not be immediately confirmed by Reuters.