An escaped lion killed a 22-year-old intern at a wildlife conservatory on Sunday after it got loose from a locked space.
The lion was shot and killed after it attacked the worker in an enclosure that was being cleaned at the Conservators Center in Burlington, North Carolina.
A husbandry team led by a professionally trained animal keeper was carrying out the routine cleaning when the lion, named Matthai, somehow got loose.
It wasn't clear how the lion left the area that was supposed to be locked, said the centre, which will be closed until further notice.
"The Conservators Center is devastated by the loss of a human life today," the statement said.
- Photo taken moments before lion mauled woman
- Canadian zookeeper hospitalised by lion attack
- Lioness kills long-term mate, father of cubs
The lion was shot and killed to allow county personnel to retrieve the injured worker, named as Alexandra Black, a recent graduate from Indiana University.
Her family said Ms Black "loved animals".
"Our beautiful, intelligent, passionate Alex had worked, unpaid, at several animal-related ventures, most recently at Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana," they told CNN.
"This was her fourth internship, because she really wanted to make a career of working with animals."
The facility was founded in 1999 and is in Burlington, about 80km northwest of Raleigh.
On its website, the centre said it began giving public tours in 2007 and gets more than 16,000 visitors annually. It has more than a dozen employees and currently houses more than 80 animals and more than 21 species.
The centre says it took in 14 lions and tigers in 2004 to assist the US Department of Agriculture with caring for animals that were living in "unacceptable conditions".
7 News / Newshub.