A lion escaped from his enclosure and recently killed a college graduate at a Conservatory in North Carolina during a maintenance cleaning, the center said Sunday. The lion was later shot and killed.
The fatal attack occurred at the Conservator Center in Burlington, North Carolina, about 50 miles northwest of Raleigh. The Caswell County Sheriff Office identified the victim as 22-year-old Alexandra Black of New Palestine, Indiana, an intern who recently graduated from Indiana University Bloomington. She had worked in the center for only two weeks.
The center said Black was one of a group of employees cleaning the enclosure under the guidance of a zoo keeper. One of the lions, a man named Matthai, managed to escape a closed area and approach the group.
The lion quickly killed Black, the sheriff's office said. Several attempts to sedate the lion were unsuccessful, and MPs finally shot the lion to bring the body of the victim safely. It remains unclear how the lion came out.
The Conservators Center hosts 80 animals of 21 different species, including 15 lions, many of which have been rescued from poor living conditions, according to their 2004 website in Ohio. The website described Matthai as "a bit nervous by nature," but "an avid recipient of attention from the people he knows best." A video on the YouTube page of the center shows the roar of Matthaias.
The center said it was "destroyed by the loss of a human life" and will be closed until further notice.