Alexandra Black: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Alexandra Black

LinkedIn Alexandra Black

Alexandra Black, a college intern with a degree in animal behavior and a passionate love for animals, has been identified as the worker who was killed by a lion at a North Carolina conservation center.

In a statement, the Caswell County Sheriff in Burlington, North Carolina, said that it had responded on December 30, 2018 to a report “of a conservator Center employee who had been attacked and killed by a lion.” The tragedy happened at the The Conservators’ Center in Burlington, North Carolina. The lion was a male named Matthai.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, the victim was Alexandra Black, a native of New Palestine, Indiana and a recent graduate of Indiana State University (Black wrote on her LinkedIn page that she was a recent graduate of Indiana University Bloomington, however). She “was a college intern and had been employed at the Conservator Center for approximately two weeks,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

Black was deeply devoted to the care of animals, her social media pages indicate. The top photo on her Facebook page shows her kissing a wolf. The center where she died describes itself as “a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to reconnecting people with #wildlife through #education and #conservation.”

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Black’s Family Remembered How Much She Loved Animals

alexandra black

Alexandra Black

Black’s heartbroken family released a statement to ABC 11. It reads:

Alex loved animals. Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures, most recently at Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana. This was her fourth internship, because she really wanted to make a career of working with animals.

She was looking forward to this first out-of-state internship at the Conservators Center in North Carolina that started 10 days ago. She was a beautiful young woman who had just started her career, there was a terrible accident, and we are mourning. But she died following her passion. We ask that you consider donating to Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana, to honor Alex.

You can find the website for Wolf Park here.

Indiana University also released a statement in honor of Black. “We are deeply saddened by the death of May 2018 graduate Alexandra Black, an alumna of Indiana University using her degree in animal behavior and biology to follow her passion for serving and caring for animals. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, and everyone who knew her during this difficult time,” it reads.


2. The Lion Attacked During ‘Routine Enclosure Cleaning’

Alexandra Black

FacebookAlexandra Black

It’s not clear how the lion was able to get out of its locked enclosure, but it attacked Black during a routine cleaning. According to the Center’s website, it is home to 15 lions “many of whom arrived as part of a USDA placement after the Ohio State Fish and Wildlife Service seized animals from poor living conditions in 2004. Of the 10 lions who arrived at the Center in 2004, three were pregnant and gave birth to over 10 cubs.” Matthai no longer appears on the website.

According to CBS News, the animal was previously described on the website as “a little nervous by nature” but “an enthusiastic recipient of attention from the people he knows best.” You can see a picture of the lion here and watch it roaring on video below.


VideoVideo related to alexandra black: 5 fast facts you need to know2018-12-30T17:27:15-05:00

According to the sheriff’s office, “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 that the humans were in and quickly killed one person. It is unclear at this time how the lion left the locked enclosure. Several attempts to tranquilize the lion failed. The lion was shot and killed by Caswell County deputies in order to allow officials to retrieve the victim.”

The website for the Conservator’s Center reads, “Visit over 20 species of animals wildly up close” and continues, “On a tour of our zoological park, you’ll walk the three-quarter-mile path with a highly-trained guide and gain an understanding of each species’ ecological importance. You’ll also get to know each animal’s individual personality and story. We’re about reconnecting you to wildlife—so every tour is a conversation.”


3. Black Was Hoping to Become a Zookeeper

Alexandra Black, who also went by the name Alex Black, led a life devoted to animal welfare, according to her social media pages. “I’m a recent graduate of Indiana University where I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Behavior while minoring in Biology. I am currently looking to gain experience in animal husbandry, specifically with ‘exotic’ species as I hope to eventually become a zookeeper!” she wrote on LinkedIn.

In May 2018, the last time the page appears to have been updated, she wrote that she was seeking employment. She was previously an intern at Wildcare, Inc., in Bloomington, Indiana. “Provided daily care for wildlife undergoing rehabilitation, as well as, training domestic rats and updating species-specific care protocol. Duties included: cleaning, diet preparation, administering medication, medical exams, behavioral training, filing documentation, answering phones, and communicating with members of the public about their wildlife concerns,” she wrote.

She also previously worked as an intern at the Wildcat Creek Wildlife Center, writing, “Daily care of wildlife in rehabilitation. Worked with native Indiana wildlife (mammals, songbirds, raptors, amphibians). Responsibilities included cleaning, providing enrichment, diet preparation, physical therapy, administering medication, transporting animals to release sites, and documenting paperwork.”


4. Black Had a Degree in Animal Behavior & Previously Helped Socialize Dogs

At Indiana University, Black earned a BS in animal behavior and was involved in activities and societies including ICAN at IU, the Biology Club, PAWS and Midnight Snipes Quidditch.

She had also worked as a volunteer at Frenzy Animal Rescue, Inc., where she wrote: “Responsibilities included administering mediation, feeding, cleaning, supervising dog-dog interactions, and socializing dogs.”

Her Facebook page was filled with comments and photos of animals. Her most recent post was a photo kissing a wolf. The caption read, “Life doesn’t always give you wolf kisses, but when it does…”


5. The Center’s Director Declared It the Worst Day of Her Life

“This is the worst day of my life. We’ve lost a person. We’ve lost an animal. We have lost the faith in ourselves a little today,” said Executive Director of the Conservators Center Mindy Stinner to ABC 11.

According to the about me section of the center, “The Conservators Center was founded in 1999 in Mebane, NC. After volunteering and working for other wildlife oriented organizations, Douglas Evans and Mindy Stinner founded the Center as an educational non-profit dedicated to providing a specialized home for select carnivore species. In 2001 the Center relocated onto 45 acres of beautiful, forested land in Caswell County, of which only approximately 10 acres is currently developed. Over the next few years, the site grew to house three tigers and about 25 small wild cats and other small carnivores.”

The center closed in the wake of the death of Alexandra Black.


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