Kate Chappell, 29, was a "brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited" woman, according to a post on her sister Jen's Facebook page.
"Her energy and passion could not be contained by mere continents or oceans. She was very much loved and shared her love for life with those she met," the post read.
Chappell worked on blockbusters including "Godzilla," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Divergent," and contributed to a 2014 "Game of Thrones" episode that won an Emmy, according to her profile on Internet Movie Database.
She grew up in the New York suburbs and spent the past year in Vancouver working for a special effects company, her mother Mary told The Journal News.
Her profile said she had worked for Scanline VFX, a company with offices in Vancouver and L.A.
"Kate was a valued member of our team and we are devastated by the loss," said Scott Miller, Scanline VFX studio manager in an email. "Our hearts and prayers go out to her family."
Mary said her daughter, whose full name was Katherine, travelled to South Africa to work for two weeks as a volunteer at a preserve dedicated to rhinoceros and elephants. She had hoped to make a movie about animal poaching, her mother said.
"She lived a life of adventure. She loved travelling, she was full of life,'' Mary said.
Chappell had visited Japan, Australia and Europe as well as Africa, she said.
A memorial service for Chappell will be held Saturday in her hometown of Rye, N.Y., according to her sister's Facebook post.
Gene Guarino, director of the Graham Funeral Home, confirmed to The Associated Press that Chappell was the victim in Monday's attack in the Lion Park north of Johannesburg.
The park allows tourists to drive through the preserve where lions roam. A park official told AP the woman was taking pictures through an open window, even though visitors are ordered to keep windows closed, when the lioness lunged.
The driver, believed to be a local tour operator, was also injured and hospitalized.
South African media have reported that a lion bit an Australian tourist who was driving through the park with his windows open and a cheetah attacked a teenager who cut through the park on a bicycle.
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.
— With files from The Associated Press