BURLINGTON, N.C. – A witness told the authorities that a door blocked by a balloon in a North Carolina game reserve had allowed a lion to reach three people at the start of a fatal attack, biting the ankle of a dog. An internal and pulling her into the compound, according to a report of the medical examiner.
The lieutenant of a Caswell County Sheriff said that animal trainer Ashley Watts had said to have separated the 14-year-old named lion named Matthai, in a section of an enclosure located at the Conservators. Burlington Center on December 30, according to the first report published by WRAL-TV. Watts said the barrier securing this section was blocked by a big balloon and that the lion had entered the area that Watts, the 22-year-old trainee Alex Black, and a second trainee were cleaning, said the report. Before she could close the door, the lion bit Black's ankle, pulling her into the enclosure, the report said.
The sheriff's official, Lt. Eugene Riddick, said the fire department staff had used a fire hose to separate the lion and Black without success, the report said. The lion dragged Black around the enclosure by his neck "for an extended period". After attempts to sedate the lion with darts failed, MPs shot down the lion eight times, killing the animal, the report said.
The initial assessment showed that Black died from multiple deep neck lacerations resulting in significant blood loss, according to the report. He enumerates the probable cause of death as "Mauling by Animal".
In a statement sent to WFMY-TV, the center challenges information that the portal was obstructed by a balloon, claiming that it is "neither accurate nor plausible". However, the center does not explain how the lion was able to reach all three.
The attack took place less than two weeks after Black, a recent college graduate from New Palestine, Indiana, began working for the nonprofit wildlife protection center. The center, recently described as a "community zoo" by its executive director, was founded in 1999.
USDA inspections in 2017 and 2018 revealed no problems at the center, according to government reports. A government inspector counted 16 lions out of a total of 85 animals in 2018.
The center points out in its statement that as an internal, Black was not responsible for the accident and that "all credible evidence" indicated that she had been "killed" almost instantly "and that the first responders" proceeded with a recovery and not a rescue ". The center reviewed security policies and procedures and retrained staff. He said he was confident that once followed, these existing policies and procedures would be sufficient.
Lieutenant Darrell McLean, a spokesman for the Caswell County Sheriff's Office, declined to comment on Wednesday.
Information from: WRAL-TV, http://www.wral.com