Washington: A 22-year-old graduate, who started job at a wildlife conservatory in the US state of North Carolina two weeks ago, was mauled to death by a lion that escaped a locked enclosure at the facility.
The Conservators Centre in Burlington said in a statement that the worker was killed during a routine enclosure cleaning on Sunday, CNN reported. The lion was shot and killed to allow efforts to retrieve the victim.
"One of the lions somehow left a locked space and entered the space the humans were in and quickly killed one person," the statement said.
It was unclear how the lion escaped the place that was supported to be locked, said the facility, which was closed until further notice.
The Caswell County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as Alexandra Black, a recent graduate of Indiana State University. She was a native of New Palestine, Indiana, and had been an intern at the Conservators Centre for about two weeks.
Black's "passion was the zoological industry -- this was not this person's first internship", the Centre's Executive Director Mindy Stinner was cited as saying by CNN affiliate WNCN.
"And this person wanted to spend a lifetime around these animals," Stinner said in a press conference. Black was not a staff member but was working under the supervision of a staff member, he added.
The Conservators Centre, founded in 1999, houses more than 80 animals from 20 species, including about 20 big cats, such as lions, leopards and tigers.