Lion rips off toddler’s scalp at Heilbron lion park

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A 4-year-old girl is in a critical condition after being attacked by a lioness at Weltevrede Lion Farm in Heilbron on Sunday, Netwerk24 reported.

A part of Dina-Marie de Beer’s skull was reportedly removed on Monday to relieve pressure on her brain.

Her dad, Pieter, told Die Burger that the road to recovery would be long. Dina-Marie is being treated at Netcare Union Hospital in Alberton where she was airlifted to.

She is being kept in an induced coma.

The Pretoria family reportedly visited the lion park on their way home from a holiday and went into one of the camps so that Dina-Marie could pet a cub.

According to Netwerk24, Dina-Marie was in her father’s arms when they were attacked through the fence of a bordering camp.

Scalp ripped off

The juvenile lioness reportedly got hold of Pieter, who sustained minor injuries, but Dina-Marie’s scalp was ripped off and her skull was penetrated by the lion’s claw.

Farm manager Charlene van Wyk confirmed the incident, calling it a “freak accident”.

The De Beer family was reportedly told not to stand too close to the fence and the farm’s rules were made clear to all visitors, Van Wyk reportedly told Die Burger.

Another man sustained minor injuries when he was reportedly attacked through a fence at the same farm on Wednesday last week.

News24 could not get hold of Van Wyk or Weltevrede’s owner, Nico Roets.

In January 2010, two sisters were attacked by lionesses at the Weltevrede Lion Farm, Sapa reported at the time.

The youngest girl bent down to pet one of the lions, when an 8-month-old lioness jumped on her from behind and got hold of her ponytail.

Another lioness bit the older sister on her buttocks while her mother was carrying her on her hip. The children were reportedly treated for light injuries at the Midvaal Hospital in Vereeniging.

Weltevrede Lion Farm is the same location where a video of a hyena cackling with joy while being tickled that went viral on social media, was recorded in 2016, Business Insider reported.

Other attacks

In April, 55-year-old Pieter Nortjé was severely injured when he was bitten on the arm while trying to stroke a lioness at a lodge in Virginia, Free State, Netwerk24 reported.

In May last year, a lion that attacked its owner at a private game reserve near Thabazimbi in Limpopo was shot dead, News24 reported.

Michael Hodge, 72, the owner of Marakele Predator Centre “bottle raised” the lion, Shamba since birth. Hodge broke his jaw and sustained injuries to his neck during the attack.

In February last year, a 22-year-old woman was attacked and mauled to death by a lion at the Dinokeng Game Reserve in Hammanskraal, News24 reported.

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