• Autopsy: Pen not properly closed when lion killed intern at NC preserve

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    CASWELL COUNTY, N.C. - An intern killed during a lion attack at a Caswell County animal preserve in December was dragged around by her neck before her death, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday.

    Overnight, Channel 9 learned new details about the deadly lion attack last year at a North Carolina animal preserve.

    [ALSO READ: Lion escapes enclosure, kills 22-year-old intern at NC nature conservatory]

    Alexandra Black, 22, had only worked at the Caswell County Conservators’ Center for two weeks before her death on Dec. 30.

    According to the autopsy report obtained by WRAL, the lion was placed in a locked pen within a larger enclosure, but a large ball blocked the gate, preventing it from closing all the way.

    The lion, known as Matthai, then entered the section of the enclosure that Black, a second intern, and an animal trainer were cleaning and began to attack.

    According to the autopsy report, the trainer told authorities that she tried to separate Black from the lion and close the door to the pen, but the animal was able to bite Black’s ankle and pull her into the enclosure.

    [Animal advocates: NC fatal lion mauling shows need for crackdown]

    The report said firefighters who first arrived tried to use a hose to force the lion to release the intern but were unsuccessful.

    The lion continued to attack, dragging Black around the enclosure by her neck for “an extended period of time,” the autopsy states.

    Caswell County deputies eventually had to fire eight shots to put the lion down following the attack, so that medical officials could get to Black.

    Conservators' Center officials initially wanted to tranquilize the lion, but the three darts that were fired did not appear to slow the animal.

    [ALSO READ: Lion's attack on safari park owner caught on camera]

    The autopsy revealed that Black died as a result of multiple traumatic deep lacerations to her neck that resulted in significant blood loss. The attack resulted in a deep laceration to her trachea and esophagus as well as one on her neck that cut through the jugular vein and carotid artery.

    The USDA and OSHA are still investigating whether the Conservators’ Center violated any standards.

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