WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Zoo intern Alexandra Black was killed by a lion on Sunday during a cleaning routine at the Conservators Center in North Carolina.
- Zoo officials stated that animals are secured in a separate space when cleaning takes place, however, zoo employees are still trying to determine how the lion got loose.
- The lion, Matthai, a shy 14-year-old animal, was shot and killed so officials can retrieve Black.
A zoo intern was killed by a lion while cleaning an enclosure at the Conservators Center in Burlington, North Carolina on Sunday. Despite the horrible accident, her family said she died doing what she loved most, that is, caring for animals.
Alexandra Black, 22, graduated with a degree in animal sciences from Indiana University. Before venturing out for her first out-of-state internship at Conservators Center, she interned at Wolf Park in her home state. Black has been working for 10 days at the Center before Sunday’s tragedy.
“Alex loved animals. Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures,” said her aunt Virginia Black.
During a news conference on Sunday, the center’s executive director Mindy Stinner said she was grateful to Black’s family for ‘speaking with us.’
“I can’t imagine the loss they’re in. We only knew this person a short time and obviously was already devastating for us,” said Stinner.
According to a zoo official, when the attack occurred, the routine cleaning of enclosures was taking place. Before workers enter the dwelling place, all animals are secured into a separate space. Zoo staff is currently working with the Caswell Sheriff’s Office to figure out how the lion escaped. After several unsuccessful attempts to tranquilize the lion, officials shot and killed it, so they could retrieve Black.
The lion was identified by the Center as Matthai, a shy and “a little nervous by nature” animal that was born at the zoo and was 14 years old.
According to their website, the Conservators Center was founded in 1999 and was opened to visitors in 2007. Though it houses more than 80 animals, the facility is not accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. It has about 12 full-time staff and is annually visited by over 16,000 people. The Conservators Center remains closed until further notice.
The Humane Society of the United States, North Carolina chapter called for a ban on private ownership of wild animals, stating that the tragedy also stressed the need for state laws. In addition, animal rights organization PETA also urged the state’s lawmakers to make it illegal for non-accredited facilities to possess exotic animals and deny them everything that’s “natural and important to them.”
“Humans and captive animals will keep losing their lives as long as unaccredited roadside zoos like the so-called ‘Conservators Center’ keep imprisoning dangerous animals for entertainment,” in a statement issued by PETA.
Source: NBC News