A Canadian teen got a little too close for comfort to a lion she was helping care for in a South AfricanÂ rehabilitationÂ facility when the beast tried to drag her into its cage by the legs.
Lauren Fagen, 18, was volunteering at the Moholoholo WildlifeÂ RehabilitationÂ Centre when she leaned inÂ to kissÂ the beast’s fur.The Montreal girl was then pulled into the animal’s cage, her legs gnawed and gashed byÂ the lionÂ and its mate, before she was finally dragged away by a lifesaving fellow volunteer.
It began as a dream. Fagen was all set to attend McGill University in the fall and wanted toindulgeÂ a lifelong passion for animals.
She travelled to the Limpopo province ofÂ South AfricaÂ to work with the animals at Moholoholo, aÂ centerÂ established in 1991 for theÂ rehabilitationÂ of wildÂ African animalsÂ like rhinos and honey badgers.
But Fagen wasnâ€™t feeding 5-year-old Duma, a male, when the attack occurred. She was leaning into kissÂ its fur, reports theÂ Canadian Globe and Mail.
â€˜I didnâ€™t realize he could stick his paws through,â€™ Fagen said of the powerfulÂ feline.
The lionÂ grabbed her and dragged her legs into the cage, where it began tearing at them.Its mate joined in, as well, by pouncing on the girlâ€™s feet.
â€˜I should have died or lost a leg. It was a miracle that I survived,â€™ she said.
Fagen said the big cat was being â€˜very, very friendlyâ€™ before the attack hinting she may have been lulled into a false sense of safety.
And she told ABC News via Skype from a Pretoria hospital that she still thinks the lion meant no real harm to her.