An American tourist visiting Lion Park in South Africa was dragged out of a car window and killed by a lion in a terrifying accident on Monday afternoon. A man accompanying the tourist was also injured in the attack.
According to the AP, the lion, more specifically lioness, attacked about 2:30 p.m from the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
The assistant operations manager at Lion Park, Scott Simpson, claims the woman was not following the safety rules.
“They had their windows all the way down, which is strictly against policy. The lion bit the lady through the window.”
The driver, a local tour guide according to the Daily Mail, started punching the lion to save the American woman and was clawed in the process. Park staff rushed to the scene, pulled the lion off and started giving her CPR. Unfortunately, it was already too late; the woman died.
The police confirmed the woman was a 22-year-old American.
Lion Park is close to Johannesburg, South Africa. The Daily Mail reports that the 20-acre compound has more than 85 lions, including rare white lions, and other animals like giraffes and cheetahs. It also allows tourists to drive their own cars on a mini-safari.
Lion Park promises a lot, saying “Nowhere can you get closer to a pride of lions and other animals and still be completely safe,” on its website, but there’s some risk involved. In fact, the woman’s death is the third accident in the past four months.
In March, an Australian man, Brendan Smith suffered deep flesh wounds after a big cat jumped through car window – also open – and bit him in the leg.
Two days later, a cheetah attacked a 13-year-old boy on a bicycle who was foolhardy enough to try and ride through.
Simpson says the Park will review its safety policies, but says they are “more than adequate” so long as people follow them. Lion Park, which also does children’s parties, has big signs telling people to keep their windows rolled up, and drivers receive a paper handout explaining the rules.
Still, rolling up the windows and leaving the door closed isn’t an absolute guarantee of safety. A viral video from last year (see below) shows a lion actually opening one American tourist’s car door. Lesson being: visitors should also lock their doors.
Poor safety records aren’t Lion Park’s only problem. People Magazine reports that the park also allows visitors to pet lion cubs. Once those cubs reach maturity, park workers sell them off for “canned-hunts” – where people are allowed to kill the lions in an enclosed area.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]