22-year-old animal lover mauled to death by lion while interning at wildlife reserve
Alexandra Black, 22, a graduate of Indiana State University, died on Sunday after she was mauled to death by a lion at Conservators Center in Burlington
A recent college graduate died after she was mauled to death by a lion that escaped its enclosure in a North Carolina animal preserve. Matthai, a male lion at the Conservators Center in Burlington, attacked and killed 22-year-old Alexandra Black, Daily Mail reports.
The beast managed to break free from a locked space when an animal husbandry team led by a keeper was carrying out routine cleaning, officials said.
The team was cleaning the facility when Matthai entered the area and immediately pounced on Black, mauling her to death. In a statement aired on ABC News, her family said: "Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures. This was her fourth internship because she really wanted to make a career of working with animals."
Loved ones described Black as a "beautiful young woman who had just started her career" and said they were mourning her death after the "terrible accident." According to CBS News, the lion was shot and killed shortly after the deadly attack as several attempts to tranquilize the animal failed, zoo officials said.
Black, who hailed from New Palestine, Indiana, was a recent graduate of Indiana State University and had been working at the Center for the past two weeks as an intern, family members said. The Conservators Center will remain closed until further notice while authorities continue to investigate the incident. "The Conservators Center is devastated by the loss of a human life today," it said in a statement.
The center described Matthai, the lion, on its website as "more shy than his siblings Calvin, Katrina, and Savik when it comes to visitors, but he is an enthusiastic recipient of attention from the people he knows best."
"He is a little nervous by nature, so he relies on cues from his bolder neighbors like Willow and Calvin when deciding how to react to new experiences, like a person playing acoustic guitar nearby or if there is a loud noise nearby," the description further reads.
Founded in 1999 in Mebane, the Center was relocated to a 45-acre wooded lot in Caswell County and is home to more than 80 animals and 20 species, including lions and tigers. The Center, which has an estimated 16,000 people visit every year, was created as an educational nonprofit which accepts animals rescued from "unacceptable conditions". The public is openly invited to take walking tours of the multifaceted preserve.