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Shocking video shows wildlife park owner being dragged, mauled by lion after entering enclosure

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THABAZIMBI, South Africa - The owner of a South African wildlife park is lucky to be alive after he was dragged and mauled by a lion after entering the animal's enclosure.

Mike Hodge, 67, was rushed to a local hospital with neck and jaw injuries as a result of the incident, which occurred on Tuesday, May 1, according to the Daily Mail. Hodge is now recovering in the hospital and has since been seen in photos smiling in his hospital bed, despite his injuries.

In a video shot by a park visitor, Hodge can be seen entering the lions enclosure as the lion begins to walk further and further away from the area where Hodge was standing. By the time Hodge entered the enclosure, the lion appeared to be at a safe enough distance away. That is when the lion suddenly heard a noise behind him and noticed Hodge. Hodge then saw the lion rapidly approaching him and began running to safety, but was not able to close the gate in time.

"Mike (Hodge) and one of his rangers were a little concerned about a smell in a compound that was upsetting one of the lions and had gone in through the gate to see what was causing it," a friend of Hodge told The Sun, a British media outlet. "He (Hodge) is no fool around lions and knows how to interact with them but clearly something went wrong."

The frightening video shows the lion grabbing ahold of Hodge, dragging him to the ground and then pulling him ferociously away as witnesses watched in horror and disbelief. The lion then began to claw at Hodge, who lied helpless within the enlcosure. Onlookers then began to scream and plead for help, shouting for someone to "get a rifle."

After approximately 15 seconds of Hodge being inside the enclousure, shots can be heard going off in the video, which ultimately caused the lion to flee.

The lion is believed to have been put down in the wake of the attack on the park's owner, according to the Daily Mail.

Hodge, along with his wife, Chrissy, founded the Marakele Predator Centre in 2003 before it was expanded in 2010 to be a tourist attraction now called the Marakele Animal Sanctuary.

Ross Torgerson

Digital Reporter for Forum Communications. Native of Moorhead, Minn. Have a question or story idea? Email me at Follow me on Twitter @RossTorgerson