An American tourist was killed in a South African drive-through animal park.
Tragedy struck Lion Park, a popular South African tourist destination. At about 2:30 on June first a tourist was exploring the park with a guide. As they were driving along they spotted a lion and, despite warnings, had their car windows rolled down. She was trying to get a closer photograph of the wild cat when the lion attacked. There were tons of posted warnings and safety signs to protect tourists from this exact scenario.
The park made a statement to the Los Angeles Times saying that the tourist and guide were both in violation of policy when they pulled up to a pride of lions with the driver and passenger windows open. The following are exerts from the statement.
“According to witnesses a lioness then began slowly walking towards the vehicle. The lady was taking pictures of this lion, which then stopped about a meter or two away from the vehicle. Witnesses state that the lady still had her window fully open at this point when the lion lunged towards the car. It then bit the lady through the open window”
“Witnesses that were in the enclosure at the time confirmed that both the passenger and drivers windows were open as the driver drove up to the pride of lions”
According to the statement, the driver made an attempt to fight the lion off and was injured in the process. Unlike the tourist, his injuries were not life threatening. Staff, upon seeing the attack, ran to the vehicle and scared the lion off. They tried to tend to the woman while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. But the few minutes they had to wait were a few minutes too long.
A park spokeswoman announced that the park is up and running and will continue to operate as normal. The lioness will not be euthanized and will remain at the park in their care.
The South African U.S. Embassy commented on the incident in two separate tweets:
“We can confirm that a U.S. Citizen was killed at the Lion Park in Johannesburg yesterday.”
“Out of respect for the privacy of the family, we will not be releasing the name or commenting any further.”
The park wants to remind people that wild animals are dangerous and that their regulations are put in place for a reason. They also want to be sure not to dissuade people from visiting these types of facilities.
These parks can be enjoyed and you can create lasting, beautiful memories there as long as you follow the rules.