Lions have mauled Mormon missionary Paul Richard Oakley at a zoo in Guatemala this week, according to a spokesman from the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints.
The spokesman Charles Trotter stated that Oakley, a resident of St. George, Utah, was visiting the zoo for the day while in preparation for missions along with other missionaries, when he got too close to the lion cage.
The victims’ stepfather Jonathan Allen gave an eyewitness account to ABC News stating that one of the lions grabbed Oakley’s right leg from inside the cage, pulling him against the bars while the second lion grabbed and clawed his arm.
“One of the elders from Mexico City Elder Lopez his companion, scaled the wall took a big pipe and opened the jaws of the lion to free my son,” said Judy Allen the mother of Paul Oakley. According to her husband Jonathan, Oakley also poked at the eyes of the lion while his companion tried to free him.
Oakley survived and was rushed to a Guatemalan hospital where he endured 5 hours of emergency surgery according to Allen.
Oakley’s full recovery may still require more surgery to regulate his blood pressure and repair nerve damage according to the surgeon who worked on Oakley.
Despite the horrific attack, Oakley was still able to call home in the hospital and remained stable according to Allen.
“Regardless of his poor judgment in this case, he’s energetic, he’s healthy, he’s strong, he’s in good spirits, and it’s just another adventure for him,” said Allen.
While updating his mother on his condition Oakley joked about the Biblical story of Daniel in the lion’s den.
The family of Oakley is still waiting on whether he will recover the full use of his fingers according to a recent email update the St. George news received.