Shoalhaven Zoo has thanked the community for their "love and well wishes" after 35-year-old female zookeeper Jennifer Brown was attacked by two lions and left in a critical condition yesterday.
In its first public statement since the incident, the zoo posted on social media to thank "all our friends, family and extended zoo family who have sent well wishes and prayers".
"It is hard to get back to each of you individually but we would like to let you know we appreciate and are thankful for all your love and offers of help," zoo management posted on Facebook.
"To the [emergency] services who were involved today we are thankful for your response of skill, compassion & care for Jen and the zoo team."
"At this point in time our only concerns are for Jen and her recovery. We ask that you continue to pray for her and her family."
Ms Brown, 35, was left unconscious with severe injuries to her face, head and neck after she was attacked while cleaning the lions' enclosure about 10am.
Ambulance inspector Faye Stockman described the scene of an "extremely vicious" lion attack on a zookeeper as one of the worst jobs of her career.
"It was absolutely harrowing," she said.
"Being the first to walk into the enclosure was one of the most frightening experiences - we literally had to walk into a lion's den."
Ms Brown was flown to St George Hospital in a critical but stable condition after being treated by paramedics on the ground.
NSW Health did not have an updated on her condition on Sunday evening.
South Coast police commander Superintendent Greg Moore said police would investigate why she was in the enclosure alone.
"We understand it would not be normal practice for someone to enter the enclosure while the lions are outside the race area," he said.
"It is too early to comment about what has led to the incident, but police and WorkCover will investigate."
Supt Moore commended the actions of other Shoalhaven Zoo staff members, who secured the lions, called emergency services and supported the victim until paramedics arrived.
It's not the first time a keeper has been injured at the zoo.
In 2014, Trent Burton was attacked by 3.7-metre crocodile Johnny during a live feeding demonstration.
Mr Burton returned to work with Johnny after surgery on his left hand, which Johnny bit before dragging him into the water.
The zoo is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Supt Moore said police would work with Shoalhaven Zoo to improve safety protocols.
"Understandably it's had a big impact on the staff - it's a small zoo and the staff are tight-knit," he said.
"And full credit to them for their swift response to secure the lion and follow their training to look after their colleague.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim, their family, and their employers at this time."
Supt Moore said he couldn't say whether the lions involved would be put down, however, he did say they had been isolated "in a secure location".