(Reuters) – A lion at a North Carolina private wildlife sanctuary fatally mauled a 22-year-old worker on Sunday before being shot and killed by local law enforcement, officials said.
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, local media reported.
One of several lions at the sanctuary, the Conservators Center, “somehow left a locked space and entered the space the humans were in and quickly killed one person,” the Center said in an emailed statement.
“It is unclear at this time how the lion left the locked enclosure,” the Center said, adding that the incident is being investigated.
A sheriff’s deputy shot and killed the lion so that Black’s body could be retrieved, the Center said.
The sheriff’s office said its deputies tried and failed to tranquilize the lion before resorting to deadly force, local media said.
The Center, located on 45 acres (18 hectares) in Burlington, about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Raleigh, said it is home to more than 80 animals, including many large cats. It said it will be closed to visitors until further notice.
Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis