Lion escapes enclosure, kills worker at North Carolina zoo

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VAALWATER, SOUTH AFRICA – MAY 02: One of the 33 Lions enjoys his new enclosure at the Emoya ‘Big Cat Sanctuary’ on May 02, 2016 in Vaalwater, South Africa. A total of 33 former circus Lions, 22 males and 11 females from Peru and Columbia were airlifted to South Africa on April 30, before being […]

A lion escaped an enclosure at an animal facility in North Carolina Sunday and killed a zoo employee, according to the zoo. 

The incident happened at the Conservators Center in southern Caswell County north of Pleasant Grove.

According to the center, the incident happened as an animal keeper was cleaning the lion’s enclosure.

One lion managed to leave a locked area and quickly killed a worker. The lion was later killed by gunfire, which allowed Caswell County officials to retrieve the slain person.

The Conservators Center, at 676 E. Hughes Mill Road, will be closed until further notice.

The center’s website says they have 15 lions in captivity.

The center, which has a Burlington address, was founded in 1999 as an educational non-profit dedicated to providing a specialized home for select carnivore species, their website says. 

Here is the full news release from the Conservators Center:

The Conservators Center is devastated by the loss of a human life today. 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. We will offer more information as we know more. The Conservators Center will be closed until further notice.

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