Lion is shot dead after killing 22-year-old zoo intern

Lion is shot dead after killing 22-year-old zoo intern

This weekend, an intern was attacked and killed by a lion at The Conservators Center, a zoo in North Carolina. The victim, 22-year-old Alexandra Black, had only been working at the zoo for two weeks, and was fatally mauled while cleaning out the big cat's cage.

The Caswell County Sheriff's Department were called to the scene as soon as the attack happened, and made several attempts to tranquilise the lion in order to rescue Black. Unfortunately, they failed, and had to resort to shooting the animal in order to reach the young intern. By that time, of course, it was too late to save her.

"The Conservators Center is devastated by the loss of a human life today," the centre said in a statement shared to Facebook yesterday.

Alexandra Black Credit: Alexandra Black/LinkedIn

According to the statement released by the zoo, it is still "unclear" how the incident came about:

"While a husbandry team led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out a routine enclosure cleaning, one of the lions somehow left a locked space and entered the space the humans were in and quickly killed one person. It is unclear at this time how the lion left the locked enclosure.

"The lion was shot and killed to allow Caswell County personnel to retrieve the worker. This is an ongoing investigation and we have no further details at this time. We will offer more information as we know more. The Conservators Center will be closed until further notice."

Law enforcement does not appear to have released a statement at this time

Many followers of the Facebook page were quick to offer their condolences, with lots of people vouching for the centre's impeccable record of ensuring that keepers and animals are safe.

"This is so tragic because I have volunteered here before and I know what you guys do to take the safety of humans and animals into consideration," said one person.

"For people that don’t understand anything about wild animals no matter if they are captive or not they are still wild and when we step into an enclosure we take that risk that something like this could happen. But when we love what we do and want to educate people on our passion for these animals it’s something that we understand could happen no matter how many safety procedures that are in place.

"For her family, I pray for strength and understanding and peace during this difficult time."

"We firmly believe that people are more likely to protect the wildlife and the environment that they know and love after making a personal connection with an animal," The Conservators Center says on their website. "To that end, we strive each day to share the stories of each of our residents and facts about the species they represent with the public through our tours, field trips, events, and collaborative partnerships."

Black, who had only recently graduated from Indiana University, held a bachelor's degree in animal behaviour and dreamt of becoming a zookeeper one day. Our thoughts are with her friends, family and loved ones at this difficult time.