3 tranquilizer darts, 8 bullets used to take down lion after fatal NC attack

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 A lion that attacked and killed a 22-year-old intern had to be shot with three tranquilizer darts and eight bullets before it died, according to a Caswell County Sheriff’s Office report. 

A sheriff’s deputy who responded to the Dec. 30 call with two other deputies said staff members at Conservators Center in Burlington reported a lion had attacked a staff member, the report said.

The staff members were having problems separating the lion from the attack victim, Alexandra Black, the report says. 

A staff member at the Center told responding deputies he had a tranquilizer gun on the way in an attempt to subdue the lion. The deputy reported he retrieved his 12 gauge shotgun from his patrol vehicle while fire fighters set up two hoses, ready to hit the lion with water. 

At that point, the deputy’s report says the lion had left the victim on the ground, but Black hadn’t moved since. 

While the tranquilizer gun was being loaded, the lion went into a dog-house shaped structure. 

The lion then exited the structure and staff members began to use raw meat in an attempt to lure the lion into a smaller enclosure. 

The lion ignored the meat. A staff member then shot the lion in the back of a leg with a dart from a blow gun, the report said.

The lion didn’t react to the dart. 

A second dart was shot and hit the lion but the animal still showed no signs of getting sleepy. The lion jumped down from a platform and then jumped on top of the dog-house type structure, the report says.

The lion was hit with a third dart and remain unfazed but when into the dog house, the report says. 

Fire fighters used water to force the lion out and it moved into the far end of the enlosure where the three deputies were waiting. 

A deputy then hit the lion with a slug from his shotgun in the front, right side of its body. 

The lion did not go down, but moved back into the wooden structure. The deputy fired another slug into the animal, near the same location as the first shot, the report says.

Still, the report says the lion stayed on its feet through a third and fourth shot to the body. 

After a fifth and sixth shot, the lion ran to another end of the enclosure and laid down but kept its head up, looking around. A second deputy shot the lion in the chest. The lion’s head then went to the ground and it stopped breathing, the report says. 

The person responsible for animals at the center said the lion had to be shot in the heart to ensure it was dead, according to the report.

The deputy fired another shot into where the lion’s heart was and it was pronounced dead. EMS was then able to reach Black, but she was already dead, the report says. 

Deputies placed the area on lockdown, but they stayed armed with shotguns due to another lion being on the other side of an enclosure. That lion was not involved in the attack, the report said.

The center said a “husbandry team” led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out the routine cleaning when the lion somehow got loose.

Officials said it wasn’t immediately clear how the lion left the area that was supposed to be locked, and the Conservators Center will be closed until further notice.

Black was a recent graduate of Indiana State University working as an intern at the Conservators Center. She had been working at the center for about two weeks and was “quickly killed” during the attack, a news release from the center said.

“This person’s passion was the zoological industry — this was not this person’s first internship,”  said Mindy Stinner, executive director and co-founder of the center. “I would like to express our deepest condolences to this person’s family.”

The facility was founded in 1999 and is in Burlington, about 50 miles northwest of Raleigh.

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