22-year-old Alexandra Black was killed Sunday while conducting a routine cleaning of an enclosure at the Conservators Center, the Caswell County Sheriff's Office confirms.
Black was with a team of professionally trained animal keepers and was carrying out a routine enclosure cleaning, when one of the lions somehow left a locked space. The lion then went into the area where Black and other workers were and killed her, a spokesperson for the center said in a news release.
In order to get Black's body, attempts were made to tranquilize the lion but they failed and deputies had to shoot and kill it, the sheriff's office says.
Black had been employed as an intern with the center for about two weeks. She's a native of New Palestine, Indiana and a recent graduate of Indiana State University.
Alexander Black released this statement Sunday:
"Alex loved animals. Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures, most recently at Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana. This was her fourth internship, because she really wanted to make a career of working with animals. She was looking forward to this first out-of-state internship at the Conservators Center in North Carolina starting 10 days ago. She was a beautiful young woman who had just started her career, there was a terrible accident, and we are mourning. But she died following her passion. We ask that you consider donating to Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana, to honor Alex."
The executive director of the Conservators Center, Mindy Stinner, says she's been in contact with Black's family.
"I can't imagine the lost they are feeling. We only knew this person a short time and obviously it was devasting for us. So, I'm just so grateful that they have spoken with us to try and get some closure and to make sure we all understand what's happening. This person's passion was the zoological industry and this person wanted to spend a lifetime around these animals. and I believe the family was very supportive of that," Stinner said.
The Conservators Center announced it will be closed until further notice.
The Conservators Center posted this on the their Facebook page after the incident happened.
The investigation continues.