SA lion to be isolated after killing US tourist

The lion that killed an American tourist at a privately-run game park outside Johannesburg will be moved to an isolated enclosure but the venue will remain open to the public, officials said Tuesday.

A 22-year-old American woman was killed on Monday when the lion leapt through her open car window and mauled her to death at the Lion Park, northwest of South Africa’s biggest city.

“The lion has been locked away in her night pen and we’ll be keeping the enclosure where it happened locked while we investigate the incident,” Lion Park operations manager Scott Simpson told AFP.

“The individual lion will then be moved to a separate facility that is not open to the public just to be prudent.”

A second passenger, a local tour guide not affiliated to the park, was taken to hospital recovering from arm wounds after trying to free the victim from the lion’s jaws.

Police have opened an inquest into the attack.

The US embassy confirmed an American was killed, but withheld her identity.

“Out of respect for the wishes of the family, we are not providing any details,” embassy spokesman Jack Hillmeyer said.

Signs throughout Lion Park, which guarantees “super close-up animal views”, warn visitors to keep their car windows closed.

“If people realised they should just follow the rules, everything would be fine,” said Simpson.

“It’s unfortunate that it took an incident like this to make them realise that.”

It was the latest attack at the park, which is popular with both locals and foreigners.

In March, an Australian tourist was injured by a lion after driving through the park with his car windows open.

Two days later, a 13-year-old from a nearby slum was attacked by a cheetah while riding a bicycle through the grounds. 

In December 2013, former South African franchise rugby player Brett Tucker and his family were attacked by a lion and his father reportedly suffered minor injuries.

Simpson said the highly popular Lion Park was not worried about how the latest attack would impact on visitor numbers.

“Numbers are not really our primary concern right now, but we don’t think the international tourists will stay away too long,” he said. – AFP

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