Deadly Lion Attack - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Hardin Co., IL

Deadly Lion Attack

Deadly Lion Attack

HARDIN CO., IL -- Authorities say an Illinois man who kept exotic animals was attacked and killed Thursday by a pet African lion.

Sheriff Carl Cox says Al Abell was apparently changing the bedding of the lion's pen when he was attacked. Cox says Abell's wife returned to the couple's home near Elizabethtown in southeastern Illinois, shortly before 6 p-m. She saw the lion out of its pen and called the sheriff's office.

Deputies killed the lion and then discovered Abell lying nearby. Coroner Roger Little says he was taken to Hardin County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:37 p.m.

An autopsy is scheduled for today. Jeffrey Bonner, the president of the St. Louis Zoo, says Abell's death illustrates just how dangerous wild animals can be.

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African Lion Information

  • Coloration:  Light tawny, with white on abdomen and inner side of legs; back of ears black; mane of male tawny through reddish-brown to black. Coat of immature animals has a rosette pattern which fades as they mature, although vestiges may remain in lower abdomen and legs of adults.
  • Behavior:  Live in social groups called "prides," which generally consist of 4 -12 related adult females, their offspring and 1 - 6 adult males. Members may be scattered in several groups within a pride's range in groups called "companionships" or "sub prides." Females do most of the hunting. Females and young eat first, followed by males. Hunting may be night or day.
  • Adaptation:  Color blends with habitat. The lion is a typical cat in overall structural adaptations. Extra heavy bone in skull and limbs coupled with team hunting allows the taking of extremely large prey.
  • Breeding and Growth:  Females can breed several times a year. However, an adult female will produce her next litter when her cubs are about 2 years old. If the entire litter dies, she will mate again soon after death of the last cub. Cubs very small at birth - less than 1% of adult weight. Cubs suckle to about 6 months, but start eating meat at about 3 months of age.
  • Status:  The lion is the only "big cat" (the roaring cats) not endangered at this time.
  • General Information:  Females rear their young together and will suckle cubs other than their own. Like many cats, lionesses head-butt in greeting.

Source:  The Chaffee Zoo

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