A lion at a North Carolina private wildlife sanctuary mauled a 22-year-old worker to death on Sunday before being shot and killed by local law enforcement, officials have announced.
The sheriff’s office in Caswell County, North Carolina, said Alexandra Black, who started her job as an intern at the facility two weeks ago, was part of a team doing routine cleaning of an enclosure when she was attacked by the large cat.
One of several lions at the sanctuary, the Conservators Centre, “somehow left a locked space and entered the space the humans were in and quickly killed one person,” the Centre said in an emailed statement.
“It is unclear at this time how the lion left the locked enclosure,” the Centre said, adding that the incident was being investigated.
A sheriff’s deputy shot and killed the lion so that Black’s body could be retrieved, the Centre said.
The sheriff’s office said its deputies tried and failed to tranquillize the lion before resorting to deadly force, local media said.
The Centre, located on 18 hectares in Burlington, about 80 km northwest of Raleigh, said it was home to more than 80 animals, including many large cats.
Authorities added that the centre would be closed to visitors for the mean time following the incident.