SHERWOOD, Ore. -- The family of a woman killed Saturday by a cougar at the sanctuary where she worked is remembering her as a devoted wife, animal advocate and the mother of a 6-month-old daughter who shares her "glowing smile."
Renee Radziwon-Chapman, 36, died from injuries "consistent with what would be from a wild animal" Saturday evening at the WildCat Haven Sanctuary near Sherwood, where she was head keeper, said Sgt. Robert Wurpes with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
WildCat Haven said in a statement that they have strict safety protocols to ensure the wellbeing of everyone working at the sanctuary and all the sanctuary’s neighbors.
"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. Two qualified staff members shall be available when releasing animals from lockout areas.'"
The statement said "At this time, it is believed that Radziwon-Chapman was alone at the sanctuary and alone in the enclosure with cats, who had not been shifted into the lockout area. Investigation is ongoing."
Background: Woman killed by cougar at Oregon sanctuary
Her husband, Aaron Chapman, said in a statement that Radziwon was driven by the desire to help all creatures.
"Renee’s life was taken so suddenly and tragically while doing the very thing that she cared so much about, tending to and caring for wild cats," Chapman said.
He said her spirit will continue to live on through their daughter Noa, who even at 6 months old "already glows just like her mother."
WildCat Haven said in their statement that "Not only was she one of our most dedicated staff members, we thought of her as family. We send our most heartfelt prayers to those she has left behind."
Radziwon-Chapman's family set up a fund to help ensure that Noa can follow her own dreams the way her mother did, Aaron Chapman said.