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Dianna Hanson remembered at Dunlap's Cat Haven

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Cat Haven in Dunlap opened to the public today for the first time since the death of Dianna Hanson.

A lion killed the 24-year-old intern at the facility on Wednesday. Today colleagues paused to remember her life and investigators revealed new details about the moments surrounding the attack.

Dozens of visitors joined together with the Cat Haven staff members and bowed their heads to honor the life of Dianna Hanson. Investigators also revealed more details about the moments leading up to her death.

Sheriff Margaret Mims says Dianna was in this larger fenced off area while the lion Cous-Cous was in this smaller connecting enclosure where animals are usually held during feedings.

Mims said, "What we are finding out so far it leads us to believe that the door was accidentally left open."

Investigators are also revealing that head keeper- Megan Pauls was on a walkie-talkie with Dianna leading up to the attack. When the conversation ended abruptly Pauls headed to check in on her and called 911 after finding the wounded 24-year-old.

"She was not only guiding the deputies where they needed to be but her comments that we could hear on the tape she was making every effort to keep the lion away from Dianna," Mims said.

Deputies are calling Pauls efforts "valiant" but say when they arrived they couldn't figure out if Dianna was still alive.

"It's not a preferable thing for any law enforcement officers to have to put an animal down but in their effort to save a human life that's what they needed to do at the time," Mims said.

On Sunday, staff members took a moment to read this statement from Dianna's mother.

"I am living every mother's worst nightmare in losing a cherished child," her mother said.

Visitors got tours which included baby jaguars. And a few other animals Dianna loved to work with. The people who signed up for tours today say they're saddened by Hanson's death but say they came today to show their support for the sanctuary.

Rod Rimer of Squaw Valley said, "The Cat Haven has been an important part of our community for a long time."

Staff members closed the sanctuary for four days as a way to pay tribute to Dianna but say they're reopening because that's what Dianna who loved conservation work would want them to do.

Dianna's parents are asking the public to donate to conservation groups like Cat Haven in memory of their daughter.

Since Friday the non-profit has received more than $4,000 in donations.

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