JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – A Quebec woman was attacked by a lion while volunteering at a South African animal rehabilitation centre, an official said Wednesday.
The lion grabbed 18-year-old Lauren Fagen's leg and tried to drag her into his cage on Monday at the centre in the northern town of Hoedspruit, close to the famous Kruger National Park.
"There was an incident where a lion bit the young woman," the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre manager Marisa Reinach told AFP.
Fagen was feeding the lion, called Duma, when he grabbed her right leg with his paw, she told Afrikaans daily Die Burger.
"I couldn't believe what happened, especially because moments earlier he'd held his head and body against the bars as though he wanted me to pat him," said Fagen from her hospital bed.
The feline then bit into her leg, narrowly missing an artery, according to the newspaper.
"I screamed a lot and everything in front of me started to fade," she said.
"If someone hadn't hit the lion with a stick, I could've been hurt even more," she added.
Fagen was taken to hospital after receiving emergency medical treatment from centre staff.
A newspaper picture shows her lying with bandaged legs in hospital.
"The doctors have confirmed she won't have any permanent damage, but a scar where the lion scratched her," said Reinach.
The wildlife centre cares for orphaned, injured and problem animals.
Many such centres in South Africa receive foreign youths as volunteers who want to work more closely with wild animals.
Fagen's profile picture, uploaded on June 19 to social networking site Facebook, shows the young woman running alongside two lion cubs at Moholoholo.