A 26-year-old female intern was killed by an African lion inside a cage at an exotic cat sanctuary in California Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family at this critical time," said Dale Anderson, founder of Project Survival Cat Haven in Dunlap.
The lion, a 350-pound cat named Cous Cous, was shot and killed, officials said.
"Another employee had made several attempts to distract the lion away from the victim and into another enclosure prior to the deputy's arrival, but all attempts failed," the Fresno County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
A sheriff's deputy shot and killed the lion and then gave medical assistance to the worker. "The victim died at the scene."
Project Survival said it would investigate whether safety protocol was followed.
Cat Haven is a 100-acre wooded sanctuary that is home to "some of the rarest cats in the world," including lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards, according to its website.