(CHARLOTTE) – A 22-year-old new employee was attacked and killed by a lion after escaping a local room at a North Carolina animal center on Sunday, officials said.
A "farming team, led by a professionally trained animal keeper, performed routine cleaning" at the Burlington conservatory center when a lion left the locked room, entered the area where the people were killed and killed Alexandra Black, Caswell County Sheriff's Office. said in a statement.
Black, 22, had worked at the Conservator Center for just 10 days, her family said.
They added that she loved animals and "died after her passion."
"Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, on several animal-related businesses," the family said in a statement. "This was her fourth internship, because she really wanted to make a career in working with animals."
The staff were unable to calm the lion, so deputies shot and killed the animal so that Black's body could be retrieved, said the sheriff's office.
The conservatory said in a statement it was "ruined by the loss of a human life."
It was not immediately clear how the lion escaped the cabinet, according to the center and the sheriff's office.
The center is home to more than 80 animals and more than 21 species, according to its website.
The center said it will be closed until further notice.
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