08/08/2016 02:24 EDT | Updated 08/08/2016 02:59 EDT

Granby Zoo Employee Left With 'Severe' Injuries After Lion Attack

The staffer was hospitalized.

Zoo de Granby/Facebook

GRANBY, Que. — A lion at Quebec's Granby Zoo attacked an employee Monday, fracturing her backbone, the head of the facility said.

The woman, in her early 20s, was in hospital in stable condition but zoo director Paul Gosselin called her injuries "severe.''

He said the zoo is still investigating the circumstances of the attack.

The employee had been performing the morning preparation routine at about 9 a.m. in the lion den, home to the zoo's three lions, when one of them attacked her, Gosselin told reporters.

A second employee sprayed the lion with water from a hose and managed to distance the animal from the injured woman.

"What we know is that she suffered a cervical fracture and a few lacerations,'' Gosselin said. "She is stable and was conscious throughout the whole intervention, from the time emergency crews got here to her transportation to hospital.''

Gosselin said the employee had been working at the zoo since 2011 but he didn't know how long she had been responsible for the lions.

The park remained open but the three lions were confined to their interior grounds, which are not visible to the public.

Counselling offered to staffers

"The zoo is one big family and when something like this happens we are all affected by it,'' Gosselin said, adding the zoo has offered counselling to employees who need it.

Quebec's workplace safety board was notified of the attack.

Granby is 80 kilometres east of Montreal.

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