A woman who allegedly entered a lion enclosure to take a photo with it was hospitalised after the big cat mauled her.
46-year-old Olga Solomina was at the Taigan Safari Park in Crimea, Ukraine, when she was attacked by the animal.
According to reports, the lion dragged Ms Solomina away by the arm but fortunately, the park’s director, Oleg Zubkov, was nearby and managed to chase the lion away.
Ms Solomina said:
I squatted down and put my hand on the lion as I was told. Next moment it grasped my arm and dragged me like a rag doll.
The other lions jumped to their feet. I closed my eyes in fear waiting to be torn apart by the pride. It lasted several seconds that felt like eternity for me.
Ms Solomina was hospitalised the day after the attack and she was diagnosed with a serious infection caused by the bite.
Hospital spokesman, Nikolai Vlasov, said:
The infection got into her body from the teeth of the animal. It is a very dangerous infection.
She underwent surgery. Her health condition became better, but she needs further treatment. At the moment it’s still not clear if she will regain full usage of her arm.
The park and Ms Solomina are now debating who’s responsible for the incident, and there’s some dispute surrounding how she was treated following the bite.
She alleges Mr Zubkov failed to call an ambulance for her and instead, had a vet treat her and give her alcohol for the pain.
Mr Zubkov denies the allegations and is refusing to pay the 1,000,000 RUB (£12,000) compensation Ms Solomina is demanding, insisting she signed a disclaimer relieving them of responsibility.
He claims Ms Solomina is to blame for her injuries because she was drunk when she entered the enclosure and tried to the stroke the lion’s mane.
Police are believed to be investigating the matter.
Last year Taigan Safari Park celebrated the birth of four exceptionally rare white lion cubs, with Zubkov hailing their birth as a ‘great event’.
Speaking to local media at the time he said:
A white lioness gave birth to four cubs. It is a rare case to see four cubs born at a time. It is a very important event because white lions are themselves rare, there are just 300 of them in the whole world.
Our Taigan Park is proud to be home for more than 20 white lions, the biggest population in Europe. These cubs are the first to be born this year.
Zubkov is famous for entering his safari park compound with dozens of lions without being hurt. He claims it’s because he can talk to them so they won’t hurt him.
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More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.