Family Mourns 22-Year-Old Zoo Intern Who Was Attacked and Killed by Lion

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Family Mourns Intern Killed at Zoo
Alex Black on May 24, 2015. Courtesy Alex Black/Facebook

A family is in mourning after Alexandra Black, a 22-year-old North Carolina-based zoo intern, was attacked and killed by a lion who escaped from a locked holding enclosure at the Conservators Center.

Black — a recent graduate of Indiana University — died on Sunday, December 30, after being an intern at the center for just about two weeks. Black and others were cleaning the holding enclosure when the lion, named Matthai, escaped and attacked her.

The late intern’s family released a statement to Fox 59 following her death.

“Alex loved animals. Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures, most recently at Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana,” the statement read. “This was her fourth internship, because she really wanted to make a career of working with animals.”

Family Mourns Intern Killed at Zoo
Alex Black on February 28, 2015. Courtesy Alex Black/Facebook

The family added: “She was looking forward to this first out-of-state internship at the Conservators Center in North Carolina 10 days ago. 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.”

The statement concluded by asking mourners to “consider donating to Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana, to honor Alex.”

The Conservators Center also released a lengthy statement on Monday, December 31, on its Facebook page.

“Although Alex was with us for a very short time, she made an impact on our community. We are a close-knit family of paid staff and volunteers and are devastated by the loss of this vibrant, smart young woman. Alex had undertaken multiple internships, the most recent of which was at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana. Her family has asked for those who would like to honor her memory to consider donating to Wolf Park, and we echo that request here,” the statement read. “We ask that you respect her family’s privacy while they are grappling with the loss of Alex and grieving for her.”

The message went on to explain the incident and note that “the specifics of what happened are still under investigation.”

“Our lion, Matthai, was euthanized by first responders by necessity. Matthai was a 14-year-old male who was born at the Conservators Center shortly after his mother was placed with us following a USDA-assisted confiscation in 2004,” the statement concluded. “We cannot provide further information at this time. We appreciate the outpouring of support for Alex’s family and the Conservators Center family and will provide more information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please understand that we are all traumatized by this incident. Just as Alex’s family needs privacy in this time of mourning, our staff and volunteers also need time to grieve while we return to our work caring for the rest of our residents.”

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