A 4-year-old girl was left in critical condition after a lion ripped into her scalp Sunday at the Weltevrede Lion Farm in South Africa.
Dina-Marie de Beer’s father, Pieter, was holding her close to the cage when a juvenile lioness attacked the two through the barrier, penetrating the girl’s skull with its claw and tearing off her scalp, South African news outlet Netwerk24 reports.
The child reportedly needed to have a portion of her skull surgically removed Monday to relieve pressure on her brain. Her dad told Netwerk24 that there was likely a long road to recovery ahead for his daughter.
The father-daughter pair “got a bit too close, the lion grabbed him through the fence,” a tour guide at Weltevrede Lion Farm told the Independent. He added that he hoped the girl had “a quick recovery.”
There is a history of similar mishaps occurring at the Weltevrede Lion Farm. Another visitor was reportedly injured earlier in May after being attacked by a lion through the cage, Netwerk24 reported. In 2010, two sisters, 3- and 5-years-old, were bitten by lionesses at the Weltevrede Lion Farm. The owner of the farm, Nico Roets, responded to the incident saying, “Sometimes they play a little rough,” referring to the caged lions. (RELATED: Mountain Lion Attacks Lone Jogger, Gets Suffocated By His Bare Hands)
Spokeswoman for Humane Society International, Audrey Delsink, commented on how this incident highlights the need for the South African government to take action to shut down lion farms.
“This horrible incident underscores the need for the government of South Africa to shut down the lion breeding industry in the country, in order to protect both people from these ‘snuggle scam’ businesses in which they expose themselves to potential danger, and spare the suffering of thousands of lions languishing in appalling inadequate captive conditions where they are used as props for the tourist trade,” she argued, according to the New York Post.
She continued, “Across South Africa there have been 28 injuries and 12 deaths from captive big cats. With mounting global condemnation of the captive lion industry, and alarm bells increasingly raised about such attacks, the South African government can no longer support this appalling industry and turn a blind eye to the cost to both people and animals. A complete shut-down of this cruel and exploitative industry is long overdue.”
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