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Autopsy reveals how intern died in lion attack at Caswell County zoo

(WITN)
Published: Dec. 30, 2018 at 7:43 PM EST
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An autopsy report reveals how an intern at a Caswell County zoo was killed.

22-year-old Alex Black was attacked and killed by a lion on December 30th while working as an intern at the Conservation Center near Burlington.

The autopsy says she was dragged by the neck before she died.

The report says she died as a result of multiple, deep lacerations to her neck that resulted in significant blood loss. Black also suffered a punctured skull, fractured spinal cord, and a number of additional lacerations across her body during the attack.

The autopsy adds that the lion escaped its cage after it failed to close properly and began to attack Black while she was cleaning an animal enclosure.

Caswell County deputies tried to tranquilize the lion but eventually fired eight shots in order to put the lion down.

Black graduated from Indiana University last May and was completing a degree for animal behavior studies at the zoo.


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A North Carolina sheriff's report says three tranquilizer darts and eight gunshots were needed to subdue a lion that fatally attacked a zoo intern.

A newly released Caswell County Sheriff's Office incident report details deputies' response to the fatal attack Sunday at the Conservators Center near Burlington. The lion killed 22-year-old intern Alexandra Black as she helped staff members clean an animal enclosure.

The sheriff's report says center CEO Doug Evans shot the lion with three tranquilizer darts that failed to put the animal to sleep. Deputies then shot the lion six times as it continued to move around its enclosure. A seventh shot appeared to fell the lion, and Evans advised deputies to fire a final shot into the animal's heart to ensure it was dead.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Previous Story

An intern fatally attacked by a lion at a North Carolina wildlife center is being remembered as a sweet person and wonderful student.

Alexandra Black, who died Sunday at the Conservators Center near Burlington, graduated in May 2018 from Indiana University after completing the degree program at its Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior.

The university center's director, Cara Wellman, says Black's death has stunned and saddened faculty members, who were thinking about her parents.

Wellman says the program has about 100 students pursuing majors in the close-knit program on the Bloomington campus.

She recalled Black as "quiet and sweet" and added her stated passion was animal husbandry, the study of breeding and caring for animals.

Says Wellman: "She was very energetic and committed to animal behavior and pursuing a career in animal husbandry."

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Previous Story:

A federal inspector found no problems at a North Carolina wildlife center in two inspections preceding a lion's fatal attack on a young intern there.

Authorities say 22-year-old Alexandra Black of New Palestine, Indiana, was killed by the lion during a routine cleaning Sunday at the Conservators Center near Burlington.

According to government reports, nothing out of compliance was found at the center during inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in April 2018 or January 2017. The government inspector counted 16 lions, three tigers and two leopards among 85 animals during the 2018 site visit.

No workplace safety complaints were found in an online search of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A center spokeswoman, Taylor Sharp, said no one was available Monday to discuss the center's safety protocols. The center notes on its website that it's not accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Previous Story

A young woman who was killed by a lion at a North Carolina wildlife center is being remembered for her passionate pursuit of a career working with animals.

Authorities say 22-year-old Alexandra Black of New Palestine, Indiana, was killed by the lion during a routine cleaning Sunday at the Conservators Center near Burlington.

She had started interning at the facility about two weeks ago.

According to a statement from her family, the recent college graduate had also interned at a wolf research center in Indiana.

The North Carolina center's executive director, Mindy Stinner, told reporters Sunday that Black wanted to spend her life working with animals and that her family supported her passion.

Stinner says that Black was working under staff supervision when she was attacked.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Previous Story

Authorities have identified the victim of a fatal lion attack at a wildlife conservatory in North Carolina.

Citing a statement from the Caswell County Sheriff's Office, news outlets report that 22-year-old worker Alexandra Black was killed Sunday after being attacked by a lion in an enclosure that was being cleaned at the Conservators Center.

Authorities say Black was from New Palestine, Indiana, and had recently graduated from Indiana State University. She had been working there for about two weeks.

The center says a "husbandry team" led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out the routine cleaning when the lion somehow got loose.

The facility was founded in 1999 and is in Burlington, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Raleigh.


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A lion attacked and killed a 22-year-old college intern at a North Carolina wildlife conservatory Sunday, according to the Caswell County Sheriff's Office.

The deadly attack happened at the Conservator Center in Burlington when a lion somehow escaped a locked space, officials said.

A husbandry team, lead by a professionally trained animal keeper, was doing a routine cleaning of the enclosure when the lion escaped.

That's when the lion entered the space the humans were working and quickly killed Alexandra Black.

Black was an Indiana native and a recent graduate of Indiana State University. She had only been working as an intern at the Conservator Center for about two weeks before she was killed, the Sheriff's Office said.

Officials made several failed attempts to tranquilize the lion, but eventually deputies had to shoot and kill the lion in order to retrieve the victim.

No word yet on how the lion was able to escape.