Authorities say an African Lion killed a 24-year old female intern inside a cage at an exotic cat sanctuary in California.
Officials say the lion, a five year old, 350-pound cat named Couscous, was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy who responded to the attack.
The sanctuary, called Project Survival Cat Haven, said it would investigate whether safety protocol was followed.
The folks at T&D's Cats of the World in Penns Creek say the attack is simply tragic. Like others, they wonder why the intern was allowed near the cat in the first place. They say any time you deal with big animals, safety should always come first.
If you walk along the paths of T&D's Cats of the World Wild Animal Refuge and feel like you're being watched, chances are, you're right.
For 27 years, Jennifer Mattive and her family have taken in all kinds of wild animals, but they say it's the cats that are the most popular.
"There are 60 cats here," Mattive said. "Lions, tigers, cougars, leopards, bobcats, all kinds."
But with big cats, come big concerns.
"Everybody wants to be a Dr. Doolittle," Terry Mattive said.
That's why safety protocol is strictly followed at T&D's. Terry Mattive has several interns working for him throughout the year, but says they're never allowed near the cats. That's what surprises him most about Wednesday's attack.
"Probably, I'm guessing, part of her internship wasn't going into that pen, wasn't cleaning the pen, playing with the cat," he said. "I mean, if it was, that was a big mistake."
When you walk by a cat enclosure, the animals look calm and perhaps curious, but they say the animal's body language tells all.
"They look so relaxed, but they look relaxed because that's their territory," Jennifer said. "They're still wild animals and people forget that."
So if you feel like eyes are always watching at T&D's, you're right. Eyes of the tiger, and eyes of the Mattive's.
"If any of our volunteers even give us the feeling that they want to pet something, they're done. We will not take a chance," Terry said.
Mattive says it's important for folks to remember that in the case of attacks like the one in California, the animal is never at fault.