Posted: 8:28 a.m. Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mountlake Terrace woman victim of fatal lion mauling

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Dianna Hanson
Dianna Hanson

DUNLAP, Calif. —

A woman who was volunteering at a big cat sanctuary in California when she was attacked and killed by a lion was from Mountlake Terrace.

The family of 24-year-old Dianna Hanson said she died doing what she loved.

 Hanson’s father, Paul Hanson, said ever since she was a small girl, she was obsessed with cats, lions and tigers, and Wednesday died when she was attacked by one of the lions she worked with.

Her friends and family are in shock.

Her father said she volunteered at a sanctuary in Bellingham when she was in college there and was allowed to get close to all of the animals.

Dianna also volunteered at Seattle's Snow Leopard Trust in Seattle. On Friday, the organization issued the following statement: "We are shocked and saddened about the death of our former volunteer Dianna Hanson yesterday in an accident at a California wildlife park, where she had been working as an intern. In 2011 and 2012, Dianna worked with the Snow Leopard Trust at our Seattle office as a volunteer. She did outstanding work for us; helping with events, product sales and marketing mainly. We will greatly miss her passion, enthusiasm and radiant personality. Our thoughts are with her family."

This year, she got an internship at Project Survival’s cat haven in central California.

“She was living her dream and this was her dream come true,” said Paul Hanson.

But her father said she had one disappointment – she couldn’t get close to her favorite cat – a 4-year-old lion named Couscous.

“Immediately, he was her favorite along with the tiger, but (the sanctuary) said you couldn’t go into the cage, and I remember she was pretty disappointed,” he said.

Even though it was against the rules, on Wednesday, somehow Dianna Hanson got into the cage.

“It looks like she decided to go into the cage I guess, when the animal mauled her,” said her father.

Another worker called deputies, who shot Couscous.

Dianna Hanson died from her injuries.


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