Family of British lion sanctuary owner who was attacked by one of his animals say they are ‘devastated’ Shamba had to be shot and killed
- Mike Hodge was mauled by a male lion in its enclosure for at least 90 seconds
- Briton Mr Hodge is the owner of the Marakele Predator Park in South Africa
- Mr Hodge, 72, who suffered neck injuries, was only saved after a shot was fired
- Shamba is thought to have been put down in the wake of the grisly attack
- Family left ‘devastated’ by the loss of Shamba, which had been raised from a cub
The family of a British lion sanctuary owner who was attacked by one of his animals say they are ‘devastated’ that it had to be shot and killed.
Mike Hodge, a 72-year-old expat, was rushed to hospital with injuries to the neck and jaw after being mauled by the lion, Shamba, in an incident that was caught on film in South Africa.
Horrifying footage shows Mr Hodge entering the lion’s enclosure at the Marakele Predator Park before being dragged away into bushes and clawed by Shamba as onlookers scream in terror.
The big cat eventually dropped Mr Hodge and a staff member outside the camp shot and killed Shamba to save his life, according to local media. In a statement, the family said they were ‘devastated’ by the loss of the lion which they said had been raised from a cub.
The family of British lion sanctuary owner Mike Hodge who was attacked by one of his animals say they are ‘devastated’ that the creature, Shamba (pictured), had to be shot and killed
Shocking footage captured the attack at the Marakele Predator Park wild life centre in South Africa
Recovering: Mr Hodge, 72, is seen in hospital where he is recovering with neck and jaw injuries
Pictures shows Mr Hodge smiling in his hospital bed despite his injuries, with a friend telling The Sun that he is recovering from the dramatic ordeal.
Family spokesperson Bernadette Maguire told News24 that Hodge was recovering in hospital and has been able to walk for the first time since the incident with the help of medical experts.
She said: ‘He is very upset about the loss of Shamba and I think he is trying to put up a brave face, but he is really battling to come to terms [with] what has happened.
‘The prognosis is looking good, provided that his infection stays under control. His wounds have been left open in order to ensure that the infection does not set into his body.’
A friend revealed how Mr Hodge and one of his rangers had been concerned about a smell in a compound that was upsetting one of the lions and that he had gone in through a gate to see what was causing it
The friend told The Sun: ‘He is no fool around lions and knows how to interact with them but clearly something went wrong’.
Witnesses watched in horror as the animal pursued him towards the metal door to the pen – at the park six miles from Thabazimbi.
Onlookers screamed as he was dragged back by the beast. The hulking animal clawed at Mr Hodge – who went limp in its grip.
The lion dragged him deeper into the enclosure, into some bushes and onlookers screamed for help.
Quick thinking: After entering the enclosure, Mr Hodge is seen running for safety as the lion turns to pursue him to the gate
Horrifying footage shows Mr Hodge entering the lion’s enclosure at the Marakele Predator Park before being dragged away into bushes and clawed by Shamba as onlookers scream in terror
Attack: Mike Hodge, pictured with wife Chrissy, was attacked by a male lion in the couple’s Marakele Predator Park in South Africa
The family said they were ‘devastated’ by the loss of the lion which they said had been raised from a cub
Then, suddenly, a loud bang was heard. The lion dropped Mr Hodge and ran for cover.
A woman could be heard howling in horror at what she had just witnessed while another man was heard shouting ‘get a rifle just in case’.
Marakele remains closed in the wake of the attack.
Marakele Predator Park was established in 2010 by Mr Hodge and his wife Chrissy after they emigrated from the UK, according to its website.
They moved to South Africa in 1999 and started a lion conservation project in 2003 on a farm 30kms from Thabazimbi.
A few years later they relocated to the town in the Limpopo province and founded the Marakele Predator Park.
Caught: The man goes limp as the lion’s jaws close around his neck just feet from safety
The footage shows Mr Hodge being dragged away towards some bushes in the enclosure
Dramatic: A friend of Mr Hodge said he is used to being around the lions and that ‘something went wrong’
Their current site has over a dozen big cat, including white lions, cheetahs and two Bengal tigers.
Guests can stay in safari tents and each night they ‘will be able to hear the lions roar, hyenas laugh, and jackals calling’.
Tents are furnished with double or single beds, and each one has an en-suite bathroom with a shower, the website reads.
The lion briefly drops the man as it drags him towards the bushes. A woman is heard crying out in terror
Seconds later, gunshots are fired, and the lion drops Mr Hodge and runs away
The video sparked debate on social media, with some criticising the man for entering the enclosure. One viewer questioned why he had ventured so close to the big cat.
‘Why was he inside the enclosure? That’s insane!’ Claire Allen wrote.
Another commented on how the lion was just acting according to its animal instinct.
Debbie Wagner said: ‘So sad that the lion is only doing what comes naturally to him.
‘Set him free, where he deserves to be.’
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