Alexandra Black, 22, from New Palestine, Indiana, had recently graduated from Indiana State University before joining the Conservator Center
This is the first picture of the 22-year-old employee who was mauled to death by a lion which escaped its enclosure at a US nature reserve.
Alexandra Black, 22, from New Palestine, Indiana, had only worked at the Conservators Center in North Carolina for two weeks before she was tragically killed on Sunday.
She had recently graduated from Indiana State University before joining the center and was also a college intern, police said.
Alexandra was killed when one of the lions somehow escaped the locked facility and got into a staff area where it fatally attacked her.
The animal was shot dead by police when attempts to tranquilize it failed so they could retrieve her body.
“Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures,” her family said in a statement. “This was her fourth internship, because she really wanted to make a career of working with animals.”
While her colleagues say they are “devastated”.
“While a husbandry team led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out a routine enclosure cleaning, one of the lions somehow left a locked space and entered the space the humans were in and quickly killed one person.
“It is unclear at this time how the lion left the locked enclosure.
“The lion was shot and killed to allow Caswell County personnel to retrieve the worker.
“This is an ongoing investigation, we have no further details at this time, and the family has not yet been notified.”
It added: “We will offer more information as we know more. The Conservators Center will be closed until further notice.”
The Conservators Center, an educational non-profit reserve, is home to more than 80 animals and over 21 species, according to its website.
It has 15 African lions, including Daisy who is known as the ‘bearded lady’ for her unusual facial hair.
More than 16,000 people visit each year.
One visitor, Karen Berney, wrote on social media: “God Bless everyone involved. Prayers for everyone
“Hope whatever necessary extra precautions will be examined and taken and this doesn’t permanently affect all the good work the Center does for the wildlife and education programs.
“My family and I have spent many hours there. So tragic.”