DUNLAP, Calif. -- A lion mauled to death a 24-year-old intern just a few weeks on the job Wednesday at an exotic animal park in the Sierra Nevada foothills of remote Central California.
Authorities said Dianna Hanson, of Brier, Wash., was attacked and killed when she entered the male African lion's enclosure at Cat Haven, about 45 miles east of Fresno. She was working as an intern at the animal park.
Fresno County sheriff's Lt. Bob Miller said deputies responding to an emergency call from Cat Haven found Hanson severely injured and had to shoot the animal to reach her. She died at the scene.
The victim's father Paul Hanson, who is a Seattle-area attorney, said he drove his daughter to Cat Haven on Jan. 2 to start her new job. He said his daughter had always loved big cats and considered the internship "just a dream job."
Paul said his daughter gave him a little tour and even showed him the lion, Cous Cous. He said that Dianna told him she would not be allowed to go into the cage with the lion.
"She liked them [the big cats] so much, she always felt she could handle it and she wasn't afraid," Paul said.
Cous Cous is the cat that authorities said killed Dianna this week.
Hanson went to school at Western Washington University and she has a brother who lives in Hillsboro. (Dianna Hanson and her brother pictured in photo at right.)