The North Carolina animal sanctuary where a 22-year-old intern was mauled to death by an escaped lion says its staff and volunteers are “devastated” by the death.
Alexandra Black, 22, died on Sunday after a 14-year-old male lion named Matthai escaped a locked enclosure and attacked while and other workers were cleaning a separate area. Black had been interning at North Carolina Conservator Center for only 10 days before the deadly attack, the park said Monday.
The lion was euthanized by necessity by first responders. Matthai was born at the North Carolina Conservator Center not long after his mother confiscated by the government and placed at the center in 2004.
Conservators Center officials expressed their condolences and said that although Black was only with them for a short time, she made an impact on the community.
“We are a close-knit family of paid staff and volunteers and are devastated by the loss of this vibrant, smart young woman,” they said in a statement to TIME. “Alex had undertaken multiple internships, the most recent of which was at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana. Her family has asked for those who would like to honor her memory to consider donating to Wolf Park, and we echo that request here.”
The center said the specifics of what happened are currently under investigation.
In a statement, Black’s family said she loved animals.
“Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures, most recently at Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana,” they said. “This was her fourth internship, because she really wanted to make a career of working with animals.”