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22-Year-Old Intern Killed By An Escaped Lion In North Carolina

Euro-t-guide.com/Alexandra Black

It is not really unusual to read in the headlines that a person has been attacked by a dog, coyote, or even a raccoon, but it's not every day that a person gets attacked by a lion, at least not in the United States.

Unfortunately, a 22-year-old in Burlington, North Carolina was recently attacked and killed by a lion that escaped its enclosure.

Alexandra "Alex" Black, an Indiana University graduate, had recently begun an internship at Conservators' Center, and was cleaning a lion enclosure when the animal managed to get out from its separate holding area and mauled her.

Conservators Center
A male lion escaped a locked area and mauled an intern at Conservators Center in Burlington, North CarolinaElaina Athans/Twitter

"Alex was working with one of our husbandry teams cleaning a lion enclosure, when a lion who had been locked into a separate holding enclosure somehow managed to enter the enclosure in which our team was working and killed Alex," read a statement from the Conservators' Center.

"When our husbandry teams clean big cat enclosures they follow a safety protocol that involves moving the cats into a separate space and securing them before humans enter the adjacent space. The specifics of what happened are still under investigation," the statement continued, adding that "no other humans were injured."

The big cat, a 14-year-old male named Matthai, couldn't be tranquilized after multiple attempts by the Caswell Country Sheriff's Department, so they had to kill him in order to retrieve Alex's body.

Alexandra Black
Alexandra Black was two weeks into her internship at Conservators' Center in Burlington, North Carolina when she was fatally attacked by a lion.Family photo/USA Today

"Although Alex was with us for a very short time, she made an impact on our community. We are a close-knit family of paid staff and volunteers and are devastated by the loss of this vibrant, smart young woman," the statement added.

Alex's family echoed similar sentiments about their "beautiful, intelligent, passionate" daughter.

"Alex loved animals," her family said in a statement, according to Raleigh ABC affiliate WTVD. "She was a beautiful young woman who had just started her career, there was a terrible accident, and we are mourning. But she died following her passion."

Alexandra Black
Alexandra Black/Facebook

The Conservators' Center are currently re-evaluating their safety protocols, and the facility will remain closed until it is "safe for out people and for the public."

Alex's family have asked for donations to Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana to honor their loved ones.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Alex's family during this difficult time.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.