North Carolina Conservation Center ‘Devastated’ After Lion Mauls 22-Year-Old Zoo Intern To Death

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A lion at the Conservators Center in North Carolina mauled and killed an intern who was cleaning its enclosure this past Sunday.

The Caswell County Police arrived, and after multiple failed attempts to tranquilize the animal, they fatally shot it so that they could retrieve the body of 22-year-old Alexandra Black. Black was a recent graduate of Indiana State University and had been working at the zoo for just two weeks.

According to BuzzFeed News:

“…a team led by a trained animal keeper was cleaning the enclosure when one lion escaped a locked space intended to keep it separate from the humans. Under the center’s safety protocols, lions are moved to the separate locked space before humans enter the lion enclosure. It wasn’t immediately clear how the lion escaped, the center said, and it quickly killed Black.”

According to Black’s LinkedIn, she had earned a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior and was looking to become a zookeeper.

The Conservators Center released this statement:

“We are a close-knit family of paid staff and volunteers and are devastated by the loss of this vibrant, smart young woman. Alex had undertaken multiple internships, the most recent of which was at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana. Her family has asked for those who would like to honor her memory to consider donating to Wolf Park, and we echo that request here.”

The Conservators Center is a nonprofit organization and home to more than 80 animals. The 15 lions in residence were rescued by the USDA from poor living conditions. The lion who mauled Black was named MatthaiĀ and was born in the center after his mother was rehomed while pregnant. As a rule, the Conservators Center does not breed animals.

People offered their condolences.

Our thoughts are with Alexandra Black’s family.


Dana Levinson

Written by Dana Levinson

Dana Aliya Levinson is an actress, writer, and trans activist. She graduated with honors from the New School where she wrote extensively about political and ethnic identity in the middle-east. She was a 2014-2015 Dramatists Guild Fellow, and has written about politics and trans issues for The Huffington Post, Women's Health, Nylon, and The Notice Blog.