A conservationist in South Africa died Wednesday morning after he was attacked and killed by two white lions he raised since they were cubs.
West Mathewson, 69, was walking the two animals on his family lodge when one of the lions suddenly turned on him, The Guardian reported.
His wife, Gill, who was driving along behind him, attempted to save his life but was unable to do so. Mathewson was dead with multiple injuries by the time police and EMS arrived at the lodge.
Mathewson's daughter-in-law told local reporters it was unclear why the lions killed him, but said they had not tried to eat him. She suggested the attack was unintentional.
"We will only know why he died when we have the results of the autopsy," she said. "We have to realize West was not as young as he thought he was. We are still not sure what actually happened, but there was very rough play."
Mathewson had rescued the two lionesses from "canned hunting" — a practice that breeds animals and confines them to small areas to be hunted for sport.
In 2017, the pair of lions escaped their enclosure and killed a man at a neighboring property.
The daughter-in-law said the animals will not be returning to the family lodge.
"They are in a safe place now and they will be cared for and loved, and then they will be let loose into the wild, but they will not be returning here," she said.