Intern killed by lion at North Carolina wildlife center was dragged around by her neck, fought back
The 22-year-old intern killed by an escaped lion at a North Carolina wildlife education center tried to fight off the animal as she was dragged around by the neck, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday.
Alexandra Black, of New Palestine, Ind., suffered multiple defensive puncture wounds to her right forearm, according to the autopsy report obtained by WRAL. She died of several traumatic deep lacerations to her neck, which resulted in significant blood loss.
She had been dragged by her neck for “an extended period of time,” the outlet reported.
Black was helping with a routine cleaning of the cat’s enclosure at the Conservators Center in Burlington when she was attacked on Dec. 30, 2018. The center said in a statement that the animals are moved into a separate, locked space before the cleanings; however, a large ball reportedly blocked the gate from properly closing.
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When the lion entered the space where Black, another co-worker and a second intern were, he bit Black’s ankle and dragged her into the enclosure.
Animal trainer Ashley Watts attempted to stop the animal, named Matthai, from attacking Black by using a hose, but she was unsuccessful.
The lion continued to maul Black, leaving her with a deep laceration to her trachea and esophagus. Another wound cut through her jugular vein and carotid artery.
Black’s skull had also been punctured by the lion’s teeth and her spinal cord was fractured at some point.
Deputies with the Casewell County Sheriff’s Office eventually managed to stop the attack by shooting and killing Matthai. Their earlier attempts to tranquilize him failed.
Black, a graduate of Indiana University, had only been working at the center 10 days prior to her death.