22-year-old intern killed after lion escapes enclosure at North Carolina conservation center

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Lion Escapes North Carolina Conservation Enclosure, Intern Killed

UPDATE 9:10 a.m. EST Dec. 31: The Caswell County Sheriff's Office identified Alexandra Black as the person who died when a lion escaped its locked space at Conservators Center in Burlington, North Carolina, NBC News reported.

Black was a 22-year-old only two weeks into her internship at the center, authorities said. She recently gradated from Indiana State University.

Original report:

One person is dead after a lion got out of its enclosure at a Burlington, North Carolina, conservation center.

WGHP reported that officials with The Conservators Center, a nonprofit organization that cares for more than 80 rare, threatened and endangered animal species in captivity, said the incident happened Sunday while a team of workers was doing a routine enclosure cleaning. WFMY reported that, according to a statement from the organization, the team was led by a professionally-trained animal keeper.

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According to center officials, one of the lions left a locked space and went where workers were cleaning the enclosure, quickly killing one worker. WTVD reported that the lion was shot and killed so county personnel could get to the worker, whose name was not released. The family of the victim has not been notified yet, according to WTVD.

It is not clear how the lion got out. An investigation is ongoing and the center, which is typically open to the public, is closed until further notice.

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