Woman mauled by lion after entering enclosure to take photograph with animal

Tom Barnes

A woman was reportedly mauled by a lion after entering its enclosure to pose for photographs with the big cat.

Olga Solomina, 46, is thought to have been attacked by the animal during a visit to Taigan safari park in Crimea, Ukraine.

The tourist, who dreamed of travelling to Africa to take in the wildlife, instead settled for a trip to the park, which offers a “walk with the lions” experience for 6,000 roubles (£72).

Speaking to local news outlets, Ms Solomina said she was offered the chance to step into an enclosure and take pictures with one of the animals.

However, moments after a photograph of her was snapped crouching next to a seemingly-docile lion, the predator clamped its jaw down on her arm and began to drag her.

She was only saved when the director of the safari park, Oleg Zubkov, was able to chase the big cat away.

“The lion grabbed my right hand and dragged me along the ground. I just had time to close my eyes. I thought that now they would tear me apart,” Ms Solomina told TV channel Crimea 24.

“It dragged me like a doll. It was, of course, seconds, but to me they seemed like an eternity. At this time I said goodbye to life.”

She escaped the ordeal with only minor injuries to her arm and has since been discharged from hospital.

Zoo director Mr Zubkov said there had not been a similar incident in the seven years the park had been operating the tour.

He claimed Ms Solomina had broken security rules by being drunk at the time of the incident and he had offered to pay her medical bills after she had demanded compensation.

“Unfortunately, the woman, in my opinion, was slightly drunk,” he told Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

“Neither I nor the administrator noticed this before the excursion. It was only during the safari I saw that she began to behave inappropriately - pulling the lion by the mane and so on.

“Olga did not immediately want to go to the hospital. During the treatment of the wound she asked for cognac instead of an anaesthetic.”

Taigan safari park has endured controversy in the past, when the body of worker Maxim Yakovlev was discovered at the zoo covered in serious wounds.

Mr Yakovlev's family have insisted the 29-year-old was mauled to death by a tiger at the park, a claim the owners deny.