Celsa Aleman said she and her 7-year-old niece were riding a donkey Monday along a road when the lion went after the animal's legs.
The 35-year-old woman said she found the courage to fight the lion because she thought it would attack her niece.
She said she hit the animal with a machete until the beast ran away. Aleman and her niece were unharmed.
The state government said in a statement that the lion had escaped from a private zoo owned by a former local congressman. It said the animal killed two dogs and ate a pig before it was sedated and taken back to the zoo.
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