Portland, OR -

The owners of a suburban Portland wild cat sanctuary where a longtime employee was killed by a cougar this weekend say a gate to a smaller cage where the animals should've been locked up was operating properly.

WildCat Haven said in a statement Tuesday two cougars were roaming freely inside a main enclosure where 36-year-old Renee Radziwon was found mauled to death. Another cougar was secured in the smaller cage.

Sanctuary officials also say they're launching their own investigation into the death. They've retained wild animal expert Tim Harrison of Ohio-based Outreach for Animals to review WildCat Haven's safety protocols and audit the facility.

Earlier, the sanctuary said Radziwon had broken a safety protocol that calls for two workers in an enclosure with animals.