No violations for big cat park where Brier intern was killed

Inspectors with the U.S. Department of Agriculture found no violations at a Fresno, Calif.-area big cat sanctuary where an intern was killed last month, a spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.

Agency records show that officials conducted a “focus inspection” at Project Survival’s Cat Haven on March 6, the same day 24-year-old Dianna Hanson, or Brier, was killed by a 4-year-old male lion named Cous Cous.

USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said inspectors looked at the specific enclosure where Hanson was killed, training policies for workers and protocol for transferring the animals during cleaning.

“They were in compliance,” Espinosa told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

The last 10 federal inspections at the park found no violations and no penalties or enforcement actions had ever been issued, a USDA spokesman told the Times after the attack.

Various agencies, including California Fish and Wildlife and the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, launched inquiries into the park after the attack.

Those two are ongoing, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Hanson and another volunteer were alone on the roughly 100-acre Dunlap park when the attack occurred about 12:30 p.m. on March 6, officials said.

Friends of the workers said the routine was to feed the cats about noon, typically by putting food in a small enclosure, getting out and then letting the animals inside from a larger enclosure.

During the attack, the other volunteer tried to lure the lion away from Hanson, to no avail. Sheriff’s deputies arrived and fatally shot the animal.

By the time rescuers reached Hanson, she was mortally wounded.

A preliminary autopsy suggested that Hanson died quickly from a fractured neck and “some suffocation,” Fresno County Coroner David Hadden told the Times.

The neck injury appeared to come from a swipe from the lion’s paw. The body had “numerous claw marks and bite damage” elsewhere, probably inflicted after the initial swipe, Hadden said.

Dale Anderson, the park’s founder and director, told the Chronicle he believed Hanson accidentally left the door of a small feeding den open, allowing the lion to move into a larger enclosure she was cleaning.

Hanson was “a good keeper, a solid person and was good at what she did,” he told the newspaper. “She just made a mistake.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Separate road rage incident ends with fatal shooting in Lake Stevens

A man, 41, died at the scene in the 15300 block of 84th Street NE. No arrests have been made.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and law enforcement partners advise the public of of colorful fentanyl.  (Photo provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration)
After rainbow fentanyl pills found in Tulalip, police sound alarms

Investigators are concerned the pastel-colored pills may end up in the hands of children.

Nursing Administration Supervisor Susan Williams points at a list of current COVID patients at Providence Regional Medical Center on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Dozens of Providence patients in medical limbo for months, even years

About 100 people are stuck in Everett hospital beds without an urgent medical reason. New laws aim for a solution.

A view of a 6 parcel, 4.4 acre piece of land in Edmonds, south of Edmonds-Woodway High School on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Housing authority seeks more property in Edmonds

The Housing Authority of Snohomish County doesn’t have specific plans for land near 80th Avenue West, if its offer is accepted.

Most Read