Thabazimbi, South Africa: British man, Mike Hodge, 67, had a close call in an encounter with a male lion he raised from birth at the Marakele Predator Park in Thabazimbi, South Africa, an Animal sanctuary owned and run by him and his wife, Chrissy.
The incident which was caught on a video and has since gone viral happened after he entered the animal’s enclosure.
In the video, Michael Hodge, at the wildlife sanctuary, is seen walking behind the lion named shamba. A few seconds later, the lion chases him and drags him into the bushes. The lion released him after shots were fired.
Hodge survived the attack but shamba the lion, which was reportedly hand reared since birth, was put down.
Michael Hodge was rushed to hospital with injuries to the neck and jaw.
Michael Hodge and his wife moved from Britain to South Africa in 1999, according to the website of the Marakele Predator Centre. It offers rides in a “lion mobile” and shows photos of lions clambering over a vehicle with passengers safely inside a cage on the back.
“I can promise you that SHAMBA will jump up and look you in the eyes, he also sits on the top of the truck whilst we take the drive through the camp, a super photo opportunity to be had by all!” the Marakele Predator Centre website says.
Following the incident, nearby Marakele National Park said it has been inundated with phone calls from visitors enquiring about the incident.
Marakele National Park manager, Mphadeni Nthangeni, said in a statement, Wednesday, on behalf of South African National Parks (SANParks): “We want to put on record that the incident happened in the predator park situated about two kilometres from Marakele National Park… and it is not managed as part of the national park.” He said Marakele National Park did not have animals in enclosures as tourist attractions.
“We would like to wish Mr Mike Hodge the owner of Marakele Predator Park a speedy recovery from his injuries,” added Nthangeni.
In February, a young woman in South Africa did not survive an encounter with a lion that was under the care of a man known as the “lion whisperer” for his close interactions with the predators. Kevin Richardson, who keeps lions at his animal wildlife sanctuary in the Dinokeng Game Reserve, said he and a colleague took three lions for a walk and that one chased an impala, eventually encountering the 22-year-old woman at least two kilometres (1.2 miles) away.