Keeper Mauled by Cougars Died 'Doing the Very Thing That She Cared So Much About'

Good Morning America

Head Keeper Killed at Big Cat Sanctuary

Now watching

Next video starts in : 7 Play

Head Keeper Killed at Big Cat Sanctuary

An Oregon wild cat sanctuary's head keeper was killed at the facility after being mauled by two cougars, a state medical examiner said today.

Renee Radziwon-Chapman, 36, the head keeper at WildCat Haven Sanctuary in Sherwood, Ore., was found dead in the cats' cage on Saturday evening, according to sanctuary officials.

Radziwon-Chapman, who worked at the sanctuary for eight years and was the mother of a 5-month-old daughter, died from multiple bite injuries, with the most severe wounds around her head and neck, Dr. Christopher Young, a forensic pathologist for the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office, told ABCNews.com today.

READ MORE: Oregon Animal Sanctuary Caretaker Found Dead in Facility

First responders arrived at the WildCat Haven Sanctuary after 7 p.m. Saturday, but the dark, remote area proved inaccessible even for emergency vehicles, Sgt. Robert Wurpes of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office told ABC News on Sunday.

Rescuers were hesitant to enter the sanctuary on foot, saying it was "risky" because they did not know and could not see where the other cats might be, Wurpes said. By the time they made it to the caretaker, she had died.

Authorities said they believe Radziwon-Chapman was not only alone at the sanctuary, but was also alone in the animals' enclosure at the time of the attack, which is against safety recommendations, facility officials said in a statement.

"The sanctuary's handbook specifies that 'two qualified staff members shall work together during the lock out of dangerous animals. Once the animals are locked out, one staff member can safely enter the enclosure to clean or make repairs,'" the statement said.

The sanctuary's executive director, Cheryl Tuller, said in a statement that "at no time was any cat outside its primary containment enclosure," which are surrounded by 14-foot tall walls of six-gauge wire.

"We are devastated by this loss. Not only was she one of our most dedicated staff members, we thought of her as family," Tuller said.

WildCat Haven Sanctuary is a "last hope" facility for more than 60 captive-born wildcats and hybrids that have been neglected, abandoned and abused, according to its website. The facility is not open to the public but provides on-site tours for donors.

WATCH: Head Keeper Killed at Big Cat Sanctuary

Radziwon-Chapman's family said in a statement that the "devoted" wife and mother's "drive to help all animals made an impact that will stay with everyone she knew."

"Renee's life was taken so suddenly and tragically while doing the very thing that she cared so much about," the family said. "Her passion, spirit, kindness and warmth were felt by all who knew her."

Radziwon-Chapman is survived by her husband, Aaron Chapman, their 5-month-old daughter, Noa Elise Chapman, and their many rescue dogs and cats, the statement said.

Aaron Chapman created a GoFundMe.com support page in remembrance of his wife. People can also donate to ensure the woman's baby girl "can follow her dreams much like her mother did," according to the website.

"Renee's spirit will continue to live on through her beautiful daughter Noa," the family said.

The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office did not immediately return ABC News' requests for comment.

View Comments (1643)

Recommended for You

  • Panda Cub Bei Bei Climbs a Tree With the Help of His Mom

    Bei Bei is moving up in the world.The Smithsonian National Zoo’s baby panda experienced the outdoors for the first time last week and now the nearly six-month-old cub is scaling trees—-with the help of his mom Mei Xiang, of course. The Washington DC based Zoo posted a video of the feat online this…

    Good Morning America
  • Countdown to New Hampshire With 5 Things to Watch in Tuesday's Primary

    Tuesday will be a critical moment on the road to the White House as residents of the Granite State cast their votes in the first-in-the-nation primary. With independents making up more than 40 percent of the electorate, the New Hampshire primary can often surprise, and that may be the case…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Girls' Star Lena Dunham Taking Time Off for 'Chronic' Illness

    The acclaimed HBO show "Girls" is back for a new season this month, but its biggest star will not being making press appearances due to a "chronic condition."Lena Dunham took to Instagram today to write, "I just wanted to let you know that, while I am so excited for Girls to return on Feb 21, I…

    Good Morning America
  • Zika Virus Outbreak Prompts CDC to Activate Highest Emergency Ops Level

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emergency Operations Center has been moved to Level 1, the agency's highest level, due to the risk of Zika virus transmission in the U.S., officials said today. The Level 1 activation is "reflecting the agency’s assessment of the need for an…

    Good Morning America
  • US Veteran Says He is 'ISIS Soldier,' Calls Bin Laden 'Beautiful Man,' Officials Say

    The FBI has arrested a former member of the Army on weapons charges after he allegedly expressed sympathy for ISIS, called Osama bin Laden "a beautiful man" and said the murder of government agents was "a hundred percent obligation," according to court documents filed in a Washington state federal…

    Good Morning America
  • Giant Rabbit From Scotland Looking for a Home

    The Scottish SPCA center in Glasgow has a 7-month-old continental giant rabbit up for adoption. The rabbit, Atlas, is already about the size of a Westie dog and is still expected to grow, according to a Feb. 8 press release from the Scottish SPCA. Atlas is not only the same size as a dog, but…

    Good Morning America
  • Chinese New Year Fireworks So Dangerous That Only a Few Get to Witness

    For much of the next two weeks, millions of Chinese will welcome in the Year of Monkey, which begins today, with a cavalcade of fireworks lighting up the night’s sky. In almost every corner of every city or village in Mainland China, families will light their own firecrackers and boxes of…

    Good Morning America
  • Duchess Kate Champions Mental Health in New PSA

    Duchess Kate is on a mission. The Duchess of Cambridge, 34, is speaking out in a new public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness for Children’s Mental Health week for her mental health charity, Place2Be. The Duchess recorded a special video message to coincide with Children’s Mental…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Kung Fu Panda 3' Stays on Top at the Box Office

    "Kung Fu Panda 3" scored another box office win during Super Bowl weekend.The animated sequel earned an estimated $21 million in its second weekend of release.'Kung Fu Panda 3' Tops the Box Office'The Revenant' Tops Weekend Box OfficeThe Coen brothers' "Hail, Caesar!" opened in second place,…

    Good Morning America
  • WWE Wrestler Daniel Bryan to Retire

    Former WWE champion and professional wrestling star Daniel Bryan is retiring."Due to medical reasons, effective immediately, I am announcing my retirement. Tonight on Raw, I'll have a chance to elaborate. #gratitude," he tweeted on Monday.Read: Stone Cold Steve Austin: My Life After Pro…

    Good Morning America
  • White House Asks Congress for $1.8 Billion to Fight Zika Virus

    The Obama administration is requesting $1.8 billion in emergency funding from Congress to fight the Zika virus in the United States and abroad, the White House announced today. The request comes after lawmakers on Capitol Hill urged the White House to address the spread of the virus, which is…

    Good Morning America
  • Dad's Piano-Playing Lullaby Soothes Baby Boy to Sleep in Seconds

    Take a look at little Samuel who couldn’t fall asleep because he had an ear infection. The moment his crafty dad starts playing his own version of the classic “Brahms’ Lullaby” however, the soothing sounds work like magic, putting the tiny tot to sleep within seconds.

    Good Morning America
  • Super Bowl 50: Beyonce Takes Fans Behind the Scenes of Her Performance

    Although Coldplay headlined the Super Bowl 50 halftime performance, all eyes were on Beyonce, who shared the stage with the British band along with pop star Bruno Mars.The singer, who announced her Formation World Tour right after the big game ended, is letting fans in on how her performance came…

    Good Morning America
  • Super Bowl 50: Peyton Manning 'Very Much at Peace'

    Peyton Manning says he’s “very much at peace” as he contemplates retirement from the NFL just hours after winning his second Super Bowl title. Manning, 39, finished 13 for 23 for 141 yards in the Broncos’ 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl game at California’s Levi’s…

    Good Morning America
  • 4 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Scoring Beyonce Tour Tickets

    Minutes after Beyonce announced her 2016 Formation World Tour during Super Bowl 50, fans flooded to her website looking for more information about the tour, and temporarily crashed the site. Fans have also been tweeting in anticipation and excitement for the ticket sales to go live. Securing…

    Good Morning America
  • Paris Jackson Reveals Struggle With Alcoholism, Pressures of Fame

    Paris Jackson, the only daughter of music legend Michael Jackson, is apparently struggling with alcoholism.In a now-deleted, profanity-laced rant on Instagram, the 17-year-old told her followers that she was being attacked online."I am expected to literally sit … all day replying to comments people…

    Good Morning America
  • Russians Arrest 7 in Alleged ISIS-Related Terror Plot

    Russian security services have arrested seven people accused of plotting terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State in major Russian cities, the country’s FSB intelligence agency said today. The arrests were made in the city of Ekaterinburg, located in the Urals region on the edge of Siberia,…

    Good Morning America