A tragedy has taken place at the Conservators Center, located in southern Caswell County. According to a release from the zoological rescue center, a lion left a locked space and killed a professionally-trained animal keeper on Sunday.
The victim, 22-year-old Alexandra Black, a native of New Palestine, Indiana and a recent graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, was an intern and had been employed at the Conservators Center for approximately two weeks.
“The Conservators Center is devastated by the loss of a human life today,” the statement reads. “While a husbandry team led by a professionally-trained animal keeper was carrying out a routine enclosure cleaning, one of the lions somehow left a locked space and entered the space the humans were in and quickly killed one person. It is unclear at this time how the lion left the locked enclosure.”
Several attempts to tranquilize the lion failed. The lion was shot and killed by Caswell County deputies in order to allow officials to retrieve the victim.
The Conservators Center was founded in 1999, and this is the first-known grave emergency at the zoological park, which houses a wide range of big cats including lions, tigers, jaguars, and bobcats, among others. The facility hosts over 80 animals and more than 20 species from all over the world.
The facility houses one of the world’s largest populations of New Guinea Singing Dogs - a critically-endangered species - as well as other types of rare animals such as lemurs. The Conservators Center offers private tours, group tours for students, along with special holiday-themed events including its popular Holiday Tree Toss and autumn Pumpkin Prowl.
The Conservators Center will be closed until further notice.