An intern mauled to death by a lion at a North Carolina animal preserve fought back as the animal dragged her around by the neck, an autopsy report shows.
Alexandra Black, 22, suffered defensive puncture wounds to her right arm as she tried to fend off a male lion named Matthai which attacked her on December 30.
But the intern’s attempts were in vain and she died from massive blood loss after Matthai bit through both of the arteries in her neck.
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Alexandra Black, 22, suffered defensive puncture wounds showing she fought back against a male lion as she was mauled to death at a North Carolina animal park in December last year
Zoo officials said the lion, a male named Matthai (pictured above), was able to attack Black because a large ball prevented the gate to his pen from closing properly
She also suffered deep cuts to her trachea and esophagus as the predator dragged her around for ‘an extended period of time’, WRAL reported.
Matthai’s teeth managed to puncture Black’s skull and the force of his bite fractured her spinal chord.
Black was part of the husbandry team helping an animal keeper who was doing a routine cleaning that day.
A large ball blocked the gate to Matthai’s pen, preventing it from closing properly.
The obstruction allowed the lion to break free, enter the area where the team was cleaning and attack Black, according to the autopsy report.
He bit her ankle and pulled her into his pen where the rest of the attack took place.
Animal trainer Ashley Watts told investigators she tried to separate Matthai and Black by closing the pen, but her attempt failed.
She also used a hose in an attempt to scare Matthai away from Black, but that did not work either.
Matthai was shot and killed by responding authorities after several failed attempts to tranquilize him, according to
In December, Black’s heartbroken family told
‘Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures,’ the family said in a statement.
‘This was her fourth internship, because she really wanted to make a career of working with animals.’
Black’s family went on to describe her as ‘a beautiful young woman who had just started her career,’ adding, ‘there was a terrible accident, and we are mourning’.
Black (pictured) was a recent graduate of Indiana State University who had interned at the Conservators Center in Caswell County, North Carolina for just two weeks before her fatal animal encounter on December 30
In December, Black’s heartbroken family said the recent college graduate died ‘following her passion’
Zoo officials said several attempts were made to tranquilize the animal, but those failed.
The animal was then shot and killed so that the attacked worker could be retrieved.
Black was a recent graduate of Indiana State University originally from New Palestine, Indiana.
She had been interning at the Center for two weeks when the attack occurred, according to her family said.
Several attempts were made to tranquilize Matthai (seen above) before he was fatally shot by responding authorities
The center described Matthai, the lion, as ‘more shy than his siblings Calvin, Katrina and Savik when it comes to visitors’, adding that the animal was ‘an enthusiastic recipient of attention from the people he knows best’.
The Center was founded in 1999 in Mebane before being relocated to its current 45-acre wooded lot in Caswell County.
The Center is home to more than 80 animals and 20 species, among them lions and tigers, according to its website.
An estimated 16,000 people visit the animal preserve each year.