Experienced trainer mauled by lions is identified
Shoalhaven Zoo and Adventure World has spoken out for the first time since one of its experienced big cat experts was 'viciously' mauled by two lions on Friday.
The zoo has issued a public statement via social media asking the community to continue to "pray" for lion trainer Jennifer Brown, 35, who was flown to St George Hospital in a stable, but critical condition after the attack.
Ms Brown was cleaning an enclosure housing two young male lions at Shoalhaven Zoo and Adventure World when she was "viciously" attacked just before 10.30am on Friday.
Two colleagues rushed to help and secured the lions in cages, before comforting an unconscious Ms Brown until paramedics arrived.
"To all our friends, family and extended zoo family who have sent well wishes and prayers. It is hard to get back to each of you individually but we would like to let you know we appreciate and are thankful for all your love and offers of help," Shoalhaven Zoo management posted on Facebook.
"To the emergencey (sic) services who were involved today (Friday) we are thankful for your response of skill, compassion and care for Jen and the zoo team.
"At this point in time our only concerns are for Jen and her recovery. We ask that you continue to pray for her and her family."
NSW Ambulance staff said it was one of the worst jobs they had experienced.
Ambulance Inspector Faye Stockman said they found Ms Brown semiconscious with deep cuts to her head and neck.
"Being the first to walk into the enclosure was one of the most frightening experiences - we literally had to walk into a lion's den," Ms Stockman said. "The attack was extremely vicious."
Thankfully there were no visitors to witness the attack, with the North Nowra zoo still closed amid coronavirus restrictions.
Ms Brown remained in a critical condition last night in St George Hospital.
Police Superintendent Greg Moore said if it wasn't for the help of her quick-thinking colleagues, the attack could have been much worse.
"Understandably it's had a big impact on the staff - it's a small zoo and the staff are tight-knit," he said.
"And full credit to them for following their training to assist their colleague."
"At this stage, we are looking into what has occurred and then a decision (about the animals) will be made," Supt Moore said.
He said the lions had been secured and were of no further risk. The zoo declined to comment on the attack, saying it's focus was on supporting staff and assisting police.
SafeWork has launched an investigation into the incident, which comes just a few years after Shoalhaven Zoo handler Trent Burton was dragged into a pond by a 3.7m saltwater crocodile. Mr Burton was trying to lure the croc from its enclosure with a piece of meat when it launched at him in front of spectators. The crocodile quickly let him go, leaving him with only minor injuries.