FRESNO, Calif. —
Hadden said the lion then ran at Hanson.
The coroner said Hanson was talking with a co-worker on a cellphone in the moments before she was killed. The co-worker became concerned when the conversation ended abruptly and Hanson failed to call back. The co-worker then called authorities when she went to check on Hanson.
Family members say Hanson was actually using a walkie-talkie, which they understood to be the policy at the animal park.
“She wasn’t distracted, she wasn’t like that,” Windle-Hanson said. “It’s a safety protocol to have walkie-talkies there, which is important in case a situation like this occurs.”
Sheriff’s deputies shot Cous Cous after the animal couldn’t be coaxed away from Hanson’s body.
Hanson had been working for two months as an intern at Cat Haven.
Her father, Paul Hanson, described his daughter as a “fearless” lover of big cats and said her goal was to work with the animals at an accredited zoo. She died doing what she loves, he said.
Hanson’s Facebook page is plastered with photos of her petting tigers and other big cats. She told her father she was frustrated that Cat Haven did not allow direct contact with animals.
“Dianna had a tremendous respect for big cats. It’s something she wanted to do since she was 3 years old,” said Dianna Hanson’s aunt, Karen Postema, who lives in Laurel, Mont.
“She was a vivacious, terrific kid, and we are heartbroken about her death,” she said. “But we wanted people to know that she loved what she was doing, and we don’t want this accident to cast dispersions on her character or hurt the program at Cat Haven.”
Dale Anderson, the owner of the zoo, said safety protocols were in place but he would not discuss them because they are a part of the law enforcement investigation.