CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Just days after a lion attacked and killed an intern at a North Carolina animal haven, animal advocates are calling for stricter regulations in the state.
Alexandra Black, 22, died Sunday at the Conservators Center in Burlington. Zoo officials said Black was cleaning an enclosure Sunday morning when a 14-year-old lion escaped a locked area.
According to the incident report, zoo officials tried to tranquilize the lion before deputies had to shoot it.
Authorities are now investigating how the lion got loose as the Conservators Center takes a look at safety standards.
"Need to assess our situation, and we need to make sure that everyone here is safe and feels safe because this is a very scary thing,” Mindy Stinner, executive director of Conservators Center.
Following the attack, the Humane Society of the United States is calling for stronger legislation to better restrict the private possession of dangerous wild animals.
“We should not have a repeat of something horrible like this again, and all steps to minimize or mitigate the chance of it happening is the right thing to do,” said Kitty Block, acting CEO and president of Humane Society of the United States.
Many animal exhibits in the Charlotte area are listed as having licenses through the USDA, but the Humane Society of the United States is pushing North Carolina to go beyond USDA licensing with stricter accreditation for zoos, aquariums, and animal sanctuaries.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia and the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro are listed as accredited zoos through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“It [accreditation] really does go through very specific points about how they have better care, how they have better regulation in place,” said Block.
Block said she expects the Big Cat Public Safety Act to be introduced when Congress reconvenes. This piece of legislation would create a national framework for the keeping of dangerous wild animals in private possession.