Katherine Chappell went to South Africa on a volunteer mission to protect wildlife.
Ironically, as reported by CNN, the 29-year-old American was taking photos of a pride of lions at a safari park on Monday, June 1st, when one of them leaped up against the vehicle she was in and fatally attacked her.
Pierre Potgieter, a 66-year-old South African tour operator, was driving Chappell around the park. While inside the lion enclosures, they stopped to view a group of the animals. Apparently, at this point, “Chappell rolled down the passenger window in order to take photographs,” according to Potgieter’s company, Calabash Tours. She apparently didn’t notice that one of the lions was approaching her vehicle from the side.
CNN reported that a source close to the investigation, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed that people in other vehicles honked their horns, attempting to get Chappell’s and Potgieter’s attention. The lioness stopped about a meter away from the vehicle. Chappell continued taking pictures. The lioness then lunged at the car and bit the woman through the open window. Potgieter contends that he tried to fend the lion off, suffering injuries to his arm- and a possible heart attack- as he did so, according to Calabash Tours. The lion eventually backed off, leaving Chappell bleeding profusely from her neck, as Potgieter applied continual pressure to try to stop it, the tour company stated. An ambulance arrived within minutes, averred a Lion Park spokesperson, but not in time to save Chappell, who died at the scene. The “incident” is under investigation by authorities.
Park guests are warned not to open their windows, according to the park’s assistant operations manager, Scott Simpson. There are conflicting reports over how many of the vehicle’s windows were open and when, as per the CNN article. Lion Park has cited witnesses as saying that both the passenger’s and driver’s windows were open. Potgieter, however, “strongly denies that they were driving around the lion enclosures with open windows, the tour company stated.
Lion Park said it was “incredibly sad that a life had to be lost in this manner.”
"Katie was a brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited woman," a family member said in a Facebook post. "Her energy and passion could not be contained by mere continents or oceans."
A memorial service was held Saturday, June 6th, in her hometown of Rye, New York.
Chappell was a visual-effects engineer who had worked on such movies as "Godzilla," "Divergent" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Most recently she was employed by visual-effects firm Scanline VFX, where her team won an Emmy for its work on a season 4 episode of "Game of Thrones."
Simpson said the lion would be taken to a second property while the park “investigates” the attack. It will not be euthanized.
This attack occurred just weeks before a Minnesota dentist on a big game hunt shot Cecil the lion, an act that resulted in a world-wide uproar.
You have almost certainly heard of the dastardly “murder” of Cecil, the lion, but most of you probably don’t know that Katie Chappell was killed by a lion.
That is not something we should take pride in.
Walter Palmer, the dentist who shot Cecil, went into hiding. The lioness who killed Katie did not. Zimbabwe has called for Mr. Palmer to be extradited to face trial in that country. Katie’s family has not called for the extradition of the lioness.
Katie Chappell is dead. Walter Palmer’s life has been destroyed. Yet everyone is rooting for the lions.
Nero would be proud.