RYE, N.Y. » The American woman who was mauled to death by a lioness in a South Africa game preserve was "brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited," her family says.
Katherine Chappell’s "energy and passion could not be contained by mere continents or oceans," the family said in a Facebook posting.
Chappell, 29, grew up in the New York suburbs and a memorial service is scheduled for Saturday in Rye, New York, said Gene Guarino, director of the Graham Funeral Home. He confirmed that Chappell was the victim in Monday’s attack in the Lion Park north of Johannesburg.
Chappell’s mother, Mary Chappell of Rye, told The Journal News that her daughter went to South Africa to work for two weeks as a volunteer at a different preserve, one dedicated to saving rhinoceroses and elephants. Katherine Chappell had hoped to make a movie about animal poaching, her mother said.
"She lived a life of adventure — she loved traveling, she was full of life," the mother said.
Katherine Chappell had visited Japan, Australia and Europe as well as Africa, Mary Chappell said.
Hofstra University said Katherine Chappell graduated in 2008 with a degree in film studies and production. She spent the past year in Vancouver, Canada, working as a visual effects editor for a special effects company on projects including HBO’s "Game of Thrones" and the upcoming movie "Pan," her mother said. The company would not comment.
The park where the mauling occurred allows lions to roam while tourists drive through the preserve. A park official said that although visitors are ordered to keep their windows closed, the woman was taking pictures through an open window when the lioness lunged. The vehicle’s driver, believed to be a local tour operator, was also injured and was hospitalized.
South African media have reported that an Australian tourist was bitten by a lion earlier this year while driving through the park with his windows open and a teenager who tried to cut through the park on a bicycle was attacked by a cheetah.
The park official said the lioness would not be killed, but was kept away from tourists after the attack.
Chappell is survived by her parents, two sisters, a brother and a brother-in-law.