A 22-year-old woman was killed by an escaped lion just 10 days after starting an internship at a North Carolina wildlife conservatory. The Conservators Center in Burlington, around 50 miles northwest of Raleigh, says Alexandra Black was killed Sunday when the lion "somehow left a locked space" while its enclosure was being cleaned, NBC News reports. The zoo, which will be closed until further notice, says the lion was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies after attempts to tranquilize it failed, reports the AP. Black, from New Palestine, Ind., had recently graduated from Indiana University.
"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," the zoo said in a statement. "This is the worst day of my life. We've lost a person. We've lost an animal. We have lost the faith in ourselves a little today," Mindy Stinner, executive director of the Conservators Center, tells WTVD. In a statement, Black's family said 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." (Earlier this year, a Belgian zoo was criticized for killing an escaped lion.)