Critics want change of state's oversight of exotic animals after deadly lion attack

Critics want change of state's oversight of exotic animals after deadly lion attack

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — It took three tranquilizer darts and eight bullets to take down a lion after a deadly attack in Caswell County.

The details are part of a police report that was just released following this past weekend's incident.

Alexandra Black, 22, had been an intern at the Conservators Center for two weeks when the lion killed her.

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She was cleaning an enclosure when the animal attacked.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating, but North Carolina is one of just four states lacking laws for keeping wild animals.

State lawmakers give counties the responsibility to regulate exotic animals.

The tragic lion attack in Burlington made Pam High think about similar exotic animals that live across the street from her home at Tiger World, which is an endangered wildlife preserve.

She's grown to love the animals.

“I feel safe,” High said. “I can say I feel safe.”

Animal experts nationwide are criticizing North Carolina's oversight of exotic animals.

“Sadly, this incident illustrates the need for strong legislation to better restrict the private possession of dangerous wild animals,” said Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

State oversight of exotic animals doesn't exist, but N.C. Rep. Harry Warren, R-Rowan, said he supported a recent bill that would have changed that, but it didn't pass.

"I think we should go back and look at that legislation, see why it failed,” Warren said.

There is federal and county oversight of exotic animals.

Rowan County officials frequently inspect holding facilities at Tiger World, for example. It's also inspected by the Department of Agriculture.

The county has never had any issues with safety there.

"North Carolina is one of about four or five states that has no ban on ownership of exotic animals, but the General Assembly has looked at it several times,” Warren said.

Tiger World didn't want to comment on this story.

The Humane Society is calling for a ban on private ownership and state oversight of sanctuaries.

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