SEVERE WX : Fire Weather Watch View Alerts

Lion escapes enclosure, kills worker

A lion killed a worker Sunday at a North Carolina zoological park after it escaped a locked enclosure during...

Posted: Dec 31, 2018 11:12 AM
Updated: Dec 31, 2018 11:12 AM

A lion killed a worker Sunday at a North Carolina zoological park after it escaped a locked enclosure during a routine cleaning, officials said.

As a team led by a trained animal keeper cleaned the enclosure, "One of the lions somehow left a locked space and entered the space the humans were in and quickly killed one person," the Conservators Center in Burlington, west of Durham, said on its Facebook page.

Animals

Apprenticeships and internships

Labor and employment

Life forms

Lions

Mammals

Workers and professionals

Destinations and attractions

Points of interest

Zoos and aquariums

"The Conservators Center is devastated by the loss of a human life today," the center said.

The center did not name the worker but the Caswell County Sheriff's Office identified her as Alexandra Black, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Indiana State University. Black, a native of New Palestine, Indiana, had been an intern at the Conservators Center for about two weeks, the sheriff's office said.

Black's "passion was the zoological industry -- this was not this person's first internship," the center's executive director, Mindy Stinner, said, according to CNN affiliate WNCN.

"And this person wanted to spend a lifetime around these animals," Stinner said in an emotional press conference.

Black was not a staff member but was working under the supervision of a staff member, according to Stinner.

Male lion was shot and killed

The male lion was euthanized, Stinner said. It was unclear how the lion escaped, the center said.

Stinner said all large cats are locked in a separate area from humans during the routine cleanings.

"At no time did the lion ever enter a space that was not enclosed by the park's perimeter fence," she said.

Stinner said visitors were at the park but officials safely and quickly got them out of the park.

"This is not a situation we've ever had before. Safety is a very, very important feature of running any zoological park," she said.

Center is closed until further notice

The zoological park houses more than 80 animals, including tigers, small wild cats and other small carnivores, according to its website. It offers guided walking tours near the animal enclosures. The park is regulated the US Department of Agriculture, according to Stinner.

Stinner, an educator, co-founded the center in 1999 in Mebane, North Carolina, as an educational nonprofit to provide a home for select carnivore species, according to the center's website. It relocated to a 45-acre swath in 2004, the website said.

Stinner said they first started doing rescue and sanctuary work, but moved away from that emphasis and worked with more species, trying to involve the community more.

"We like to think of ourselves as kind of a community zoo," she said.

The center is closed until further notice, officials said.

"We need to assess our situation, and we need to make sure that everyone here is safe and feels safe," Stinner said, "because this is a very scary thing."

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 292560

Reported Deaths: 6718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1232563643
Riverside21957515
Orange20225376
San Diego17842406
San Bernardino16586293
Imperial7464125
Fresno728184
Alameda7245142
San Joaquin581761
Kern575987
Santa Clara5552165
Tulare5298148
Sacramento477678
Contra Costa424186
San Francisco407150
Ventura385850
Santa Barbara380830
San Mateo3743111
Marin323226
Stanislaus300450
Kings282338
Monterey227017
Solano192227
Merced162311
Sonoma148714
Placer97011
Madera8578
San Luis Obispo8453
Yolo76028
Santa Cruz5033
Napa4534
Sutter3234
San Benito3042
Butte2954
El Dorado2800
Lassen2670
Shasta1715
Humboldt1574
Nevada1551
Yuba1543
Glenn1530
Lake1001
Colusa980
Mendocino980
Tehama981
Calaveras610
Del Norte580
Tuolumne580
Mono491
Amador350
Inyo341
Siskiyou330
Mariposa311
Plumas150
Alpine20
Trinity20
Sierra10
Unassigned00
Chico
Few Clouds
95° wxIcon
Hi: 97° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 95°
Oroville
Clear
94° wxIcon
Hi: 100° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 94°
Paradise
Few Clouds
95° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 95°
Chester
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 77°
Red Bluff
Clear
94° wxIcon
Hi: 100° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 94°
Willows
Few Clouds
95° wxIcon
Hi: 101° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 95°
The heat continues to rise around northern California as we progress through the week, and no real relief from this current heat wave is in sight.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events