South African boy critical after attack by 'tame' lion

Stuart Graham
Kristian Prinsloo - Family handout

An 11-year-old boy is fighting for his life in a South African hospital after he was attacked by a “tame” lion in the kitchen of a farm house.

Kristian Prinsloo and his grandmother, Mari Strydom, 75, were visiting a family friend near the town of Ellisras in northern South Africa on Saturday afternoon, when the lion attacked. Paramedics said Mr Prinsloo was first treated at a local hospital in the area before being airlifted to Pretoria.

“Kristian is in a very critical condition,” said his father Herman Prinsloo, 47. “At the moment there is no brain activity. We ask that everyone please keeps praying to God that Kristan’s starts to function again and that he makes a full recovery.”

Mr Prinsloo said he and his wife Adri had been with Kristian, who is their only child, 24 hours a day since the attack. He said the boy had been visiting his grandmother for the school holidays. She had taken him to visit her friends, who own three lions. All three of the cats were hand reared and are used to people.

They are usually kept in cages on the farm, but on Saturday one of the animals left its cage and entered the farm house. “We don’t know how it happened, the couple who own the lions are very security conscious,” Mr Prinsloo said. “They always let people know if they open the cages to allow the lions roam. “And when they do the lions stay in their area of the farm.” Kristian had spent time with the lions before and they were never a threat to him.

Mr Prisnloo said the lion caught the boy and Mrs Strydom by surprise in the kitchen. “My mother-in-law told Kristan to hide in the bedroom. He ran and the lion grabbed him from behind by the neck.” Mrs Strydom raced towards the lion and wrestled it off the boy.

She was scratched and bitten and had to receive stitches for her wounds. The boy was bitten on his neck and back. Vertebrae in his neck were also damaged.

Mr Prinsloo said he has no ill feelings towards the owners of the lions, saying the couple are having a difficult time and need prayers. He and his wife also do not want the lion to be put down.

Mrs Strydom is traumatised but is positive, considering the circumstances, he said. “We are so happy she was there,” he said. “Her bravery saved our son’s life.”

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