A spokeswoman for Mike Hodge, who owns the Makarele Predator Centre in South Africa, confirmed the animal, named Shamba, was "fatally injured" during Saturday's attack.

Issued to Newsweek, the statement said the family are "only too aware of the dangers of working with wildlife but they remain his passion" despite the attack.

The family added that they are "devastated" at the death of the animal which had been raised from a cub at the park.

Mike, who relocated from the UK with his wife Chrissy in 1999, is currently in hospital after suffering a "broken jaw and several lacerations" the family confirmed.

His wife Chrissy added in the statement that he is "recovering well" after being rushed to Mediclinic Hospital, in Thabazimbi.

The Brit was then transferred to a hospital in Johannesburg on the same day, Mediclinic confirmed.

Speaking with The Sun Online, a friend of Mike said he was rushed to the Mediclinic Hospital three miles away.

His pal, who does not wish to be named, revealed that the park owner was investigating a smell in the lion’s enclosure when the predator attacked him.

She said: “Mike 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.

"It had put the lion on edge but when Mike went in the lion turned and came for him and he ran but couldn't get through the gate quick enough and it had him.

"There is no information coming out of the hospital but all I know is that he is alive and his wife and daughter are with him.

“I do not know how badly hurt he is but he is a lovely guy and I wish him all the best.

"He is no fool around lions and knows how to interact with them but clearly something went wrong" she said.

In the footage, the lion spots Mike after he enters its enclosure and chases him towards the metal door of the facility.

In astonishing scenes, the elderly park owner is dragged like a rag doll towards some bushes.

Onlookers scream for help while the animal paws Mike, who does not appear to be moving.

The lion then drags him further into the bushes but then gunshots ring out and the lion is scared away.

But the predator remains near the victim while more shots are fired into the air.

One girl who is watching the attack is heard crying in horror as another man shouts for someone to “get a rifle.”

According to their website, Mike and Chrissy started a lion project in Thabazimbi, northern South Africa, in 2003 before opening the Marakele Animal Sanctuary in 2009.

And due to the park's popularity, the couple created the predator centre within the sanctuary featuring at least a dozen big cats, including white lions, cheetahs and two Bengal tigers.

Marakele remains closed following the attack while Chrissy was said to be too upset to comment on the incident.

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