On this day in 1919: Lion mauls teenager posing for photo

From the archives of the Los Angeles Times:

1919: Lion mauls teenager posing for photo
September 21, 2006

Sept. 21, 1919: Lillian Harmon, 17, wanted to pose for a picture with Leo, a usually tame African lion who had appeared in many films. But when she stepped into his enclosure at E&R Jungles near Eastlake Park, Leo attacked.

“Miss Harmon … had her hand on the animal’s head. It is one of the performances for which Leo was trained,” The Times reported, citing H.J. Harmon, Lillian’s brother.

“For just one second, the lion stood motionless and then without the least warning struck the girl with his paw, knocking her to the ground,” the newspaper said. “In the next instant he was clawing her.”

Several men rushed to her aid and hit the lion with an iron bar. But “before a bar could be found, Leo had the girl in his jaw,” The Times said.

“At the Receiving Hospital, it was found that the girl was badly torn on the back, arms and thighs where the claws and the teeth of the animal found their marks.”

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