Johannesburg Lion That Killed U.S. Tourist Won’t Be Put Down

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A lion that killed a female American tourist won’t be euthanized, according to the Johannesburg wildlife park where the incident happened Monday.

The nine-year-old lioness may be moved to a reserve about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) away from the Lion Park, in northern Johannesburg, spokesman Scott Simpson said. Along with the rest of her pride, she’s currently being kept in a night pen with no access to tourists.

“We want to be clear that euthanizing her is not an option,” Simpson said. “That’s not something we’d consider.”

The U.S. tourist was driving through a lion enclosure with a tour guide, who was not an employee of the park, when the incident happened. The windows on both the passenger and driver side were open, contrary to the park’s rules that were signposted, Simpson said, citing witnesses.

“From what we’ve been told the lion lunged from about a meter and a half away straight at the car and bit the lady through the window,” Simpson said. “The tour operator tried to punch and fight the lion to get it out.”

Employees then chased the lion away with a vehicle stationed in the enclosure, which is about seven hectares (17.3 acres) in size. The tourist died while being treated by paramedics, who arrived within minutes, Simpson said.

Guide Recovering

The tour guide is recovering in the hospital and is expected to be discharged within a few days, he said. U.S. consular officials visited the park late Monday and planned to notify the woman’s family immediately, he said.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed via its Twitter account Tuesday that the woman was a U.S. citizen. It would not release her name “out of respect for the family.”

“Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased in this sad incident,” the embassy said.

Earlier this year, an Australian man was bitten by a lion at the same park and a South African teenager was attacked by a cheetah, according to Netwerk24, a news website.

In 2013, an elephant was put down after trampling and rolling a tourist’s car 400 meters in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. The decision sparked a public backlash after a video emerged appearing to show the tourist failing to drive away when the elephant appeared to become distressed.

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