Lion park temporarily closed after attack
THE Marakele animal sanctuary in Thabazimbi has been closed temporarily as the family of the owner‚ mauled by his lion Shamba‚ are in Johannesburg to monitor his hospital treatment.
The Hodge family denied a newspaper report yesterday from The Times of London that the sanctuary had been closed down as a result of threats and abuse.
Michael Hodge‚ 72‚ was seriously injured on Saturday by the 10-year-old lion he had hand-reared from birth. The incident was captured on video.
Hodge entered an enclosure where Shamba was and could not get out in time as the lion unexpectedly attacked him. The lion was killed as rangers tried to extricate Hodge from the lion.
Hodge took visitors on a “lion mobile” where they could get close up with Shamba‚ an activity which had been criticised by conservationists.
“It is a temporary closure as his family is in Johannesburg to monitor Mike’s condition‚” Hodge family spokeswoman Bernadette Maguire said yesterday.
She said there had been no threats made against the family.
Maguire also said it would take longer for Hodge to heal. “His wounds are open. “They have not been able to close his wounds for fear of infection‚” Maguire said.
She said he was struggling to eat be- cause his jaw was broken.
“It is going to be a long road to recovery.
“Although the lion inflicted serious damage‚ it did not damage major arteries‚” Maguire said.
The camp’s activities have been under attack from conservationists‚ who said wild animals belonged in the wild and captive animal breeding had no conservation value.
In its promotion on its website‚ the sanctuary promises that for R70 an adult and R30 a child‚ guests can visit the camp in a “lion mobile” car where Shamba will “jump up and look you in the eyes. He also sits on top of the truck whilst we take the drive through the camp.”