THE British safari park owner who was attacked by one of his own lions has closed the sanctuary after being threatened over the killing of the animal.
Mike Hodge, 72, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, suffered deep bite marks over his whole body and is struggling to eat because of a broken jaw after being mauled by the predator.
Mike Hodge, with his wife Chrissy, was attacked by a lion at his safari park on Saturday
He and his wife Chrissy have shut the doors of the Marakele Predator Park in South Africa “to take stock and decide what to do next”, reports the Times.
The British couple have been bombarded with abuse from trolls unhappy with the killing of the lion named Shamba.
Disturbing footage of the attack showed Mike being dragged and savaged by the big cat after entering its enclosure last Saturday.
A ranger was forced to shoot Shamba dead after the lion refused to move away from the 72-year-old following warning shots.
The lion grabs Mike at the enclosure door while onlookers scream in horror Mike Hodge is recovering in hospital after the horrifying attack at his wildlife sanctuary in northern South Africa
Opened in 2010, Marakele features around a dozen big cats including white lions and two Bengali tigers.
Mike’s severe injuries will keep him in hospital for weeks, Sun Online revealed yesterday.
The big cat lover says he is “devastated” at the loss of the lion who was shot dead in order to save the Brit during the terrifying attack.
Mike is recovering at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg where family spokesperson Bernadette Maguire told The Sun he was “up and about” but was still traumatised at the loss of his favourite lion.
She said: “He is very upset about the loss of Shamba and I think he is trying to put on a brave face but he is really battling to come to terms with what happened. He raised Shamba from a cub.
The wildlife park promises guests they can get up close to the dangerous lions Mike is said to be in hospital being treated for neck and jaw injuries
“His entire family are devastated by the loss of Shamba who was bred at the sanctuary and bottle fed by Mike.
“He was 10 years old and was like family to them so this is a double tragedy.”
A source at the park said that while anger at the shooting of the lion was understandable, most of the people attacking the family online were not fully informed of the circumstances of Saturday‘s incident.
The source said: “Mike was not showboating or showing off in the enclosure. He thought Shamba was far enough away. He was curious about what had distracted Shamba and had gone to have a look thinking it was safe.
“The attack was quick and a ranger with a gun fired a warning shot which stopped the attack but Shamba would not move away from Mike so he could not be rescued and he was a life or death situation.
“The decision to shoot Shamba was a terrible one but there was no other way to save his life.
“People must be aware that Shamba was not shot after Mike had been rescued as a punishment for the attack but that it was done to save his life as he would not move away even though shots were fired.
“The family loved that lion and nobody is more upset than they at his loss.”
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