(CNN) — It was clear that Dianna Hanson was thrilled to be at the Cat Haven sanctuary. Her Facebook page boasted more pictures of lions and tigers than it did of her friends.
Hanson had been at the 100-acre wooded Northern California facility since January — working as an intern, bonding with the big cats it’s home to.
On a Facebook photo of her petting a tiger cub, a friend commented, “You have met your calling.”
“My calling,” Hanson jokingly responded, “drools on my pants.”
On Wednesday, the 24-year-old Seattle woman was killed when she was mauled by a 5-year-old, 350-pound African lion inside a cage.
Hanson’s grieving father said the lion, Cous Cous, was one of her favorites.
The sanctuary did not release details of why Hanson was in the lion’s cage, but said it would investigate whether safety protocols were followed.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said that when the lion attacked, another employee at the sanctuary tried to distract him away from Hanson into another enclosure. “But all attempts failed,” it said.
A sheriff’s deputy shot and killed the lion to reach Hanson and give her medical assistance. It was too late.
“The victim died at the scene.”