A lion has killed a worker at a wildlife conservatory in North Carolina after it escaped from a locked space, the center said.
The lion was shot and killed after it attacked an employee of the Conservators’ Center in Burlington in an enclosure that was being cleaned, the center said in a statement.
A “husbandry team” led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out the routine cleaning when the lion somehow got loose. It wasn’t clear how the lion left the area that was supposed to be locked, said the center, which will be closed until further notice.
Authorities have identified the victim of the fatal attack as 22-year-old Alexandra Black, according to local news outlets, citing a statement from the Caswell County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities say Black was from New Palestine, Indiana. She had recently graduated from Indiana University and had been working at the conservatory for about two weeks.
“The Conservators Center is devastated by the loss of a human life today,” the statement said.
The center said the lion was shot and killed to allow county personnel to retrieve the injured worker.
The facility was founded in 1999 and is in Burlington, about 50 miles north-west of Raleigh.
Its website says it began giving public tours in 2007 and gets more than 16,000 visitors annually. It has more than a dozen employees and currently houses more than 80 animals and more than 21 species.
It took in 14 lions and tigers in 2004 to assist the US department of agriculture with caring for animals that were living in “unacceptable conditions.”