Worker at NC Zoo dies in fall from tree during workplace safety drill

ASHEBORO, N.C. — A worker at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro was killed Thursday morning in a workplace accident while performing a rescue drill at the facility, authorities said.

Authorities responded to a call from the zoo at 8:20 a.m.

WTVD reported that officials with the state Department of Labor said an arborist working for the zoo was taking part in an aerial rescue drill when they fell 20-30 feet from a tree and died at the scene.

Officials said that the entire Africa section of the park was closed off, and the remainder of the zoo was closed for the day at 2 p.m.

"The Zoo is working closely with investigators to determine details of the incident, which was not related to any of the Zoo’s animals," a spokesman for the North Carolina Zoo said. "The entire Zoo community is deeply saddened by this loss and our thoughts and sympathies are with the family of our team member."

Officials said the drill involved two arborists, with one simulating a person trapped in a tree and the other performing a rescue.

The person who fell was pronounced dead at the scene. A zoo official said they are not releasing the victim's name out of respect for the family.

Local law enforcement, the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.

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