SEATTLE -- While her friends were obsessed with dolls or ponies, for as long as anyone can remember Dianna Hanson talked incessantly of her love of lions and tigers, her father recalled Thursday morning.
As a child growing up near Brier, Dianna Hanson told people that when she became an adult she planned to move to Siberia and study snow tigers, Paul Hanson said.
"She's always had a fascination with big cats. She never played with dolls. She was a tomboy and played with boy stuff," Paul Hanson said. "I thought she would change her mind, but it was her dream, her goal, right from the start."
Dianna Hanson paid regular visits to Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo to view the lions and tigers. As she grew older, she volunteered to help stray and feral cats, her father said. While in college at Western Washington University, she volunteered at a wildlife sanctuary outside of Bellingham.
But on Wednesday, while his daughter was interning at an animal park in Central California, Paul Hanson's long-held fear came true. Dianna Hanson, 24, was attacked and killed by a lion.
Authorities are investigating why she entered the male African lion's enclosure and what might have provoked the animal at Cat Haven, approximately 45 miles east of Fresno.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act, also hopes to learn whether the 4-year-old lion showed any behavior before the attack that might have indicated potential danger.
Authorities are not pursuing a criminal investigation because Hanson's death appears to have been the result of an accident, Fresno County sheriff's Lt. Robert Miller said Thursday.
"I had an awful feeling that a lion or tiger would turn on her," Paul Hanson, a Lynnwood-area attorney, said Thursday morning.
Sheriff's deputies responding to an emergency call from the park found Hanson severely injured and still lying inside the enclosure with the lion nearby, Miller said. Another park worker had been unsuccessfully trying to lure the lion into a separate pen, so deputies shot and killed it in order to reach the wounded woman, who died at the scene, he said.