CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Shamba the lion was the star attraction at the Marakele Animal Sanctuary, giving tourists in the park’s safari vehicles an up-close-and-personal view.
On Saturday, he was lured away from the gate to his enclosure by a staff member. The distraction was meant to help park owner, 72-year-old Mike Hodge, open the gate to exit the park. It was described as a routine precaution, but on that day, it was anything but.
Suddenly, Hodge frantically ran back to the vehicle, as Shamba chased after him. Then the lion pounced and dragged him into the bushes.
Shocked and terrified tourists screamed for help as the male lion mauled Hodge. Eventually, shots rang out, and at the end of the ordeal, Shamba was killed to save Hodge’s life.
Hodge was airlifted to a Johannesburg hospital, where he is being treated for severe lacerations and a broken jaw. His family said they are devastated by the loss of 10-year-old Shamba, who was hand-reared and bottle fed as a cub by Hodge, like many other animals at the sanctuary.
The incident has once again raised concerns about the ethics of breeding lions in captivity. Critics say they become used to humans, but at the end of the day they are still wild animals.