Zoos in Georgia or anywhere in the U.S. are meant to be safe places where visitors can see and learn about wildlife. However, accidents can happen. On Dec. 28, a 22-year-old intern lost her life after a lion escaped a locked area at a North Carolina zoo while she was routinely cleaning the animal enclosure. The 22-year-old was a recent graduate of Indiana University working at the zoo in order to develop her career in animal care. She had been employed there for around two weeks at the time of the incident.
In a statement, the zoo said that the intern was part of a professional team led by a trained keeper carrying out routine maintenance of the area when one of the lions escaped from the area where it was apparently locked. It entered the area with the humans, attacking and killing the woman. After the incident, the lion was ultimately shot and killed by local sheriff’s deputies. According to the zoo, it is not yet clear how or why the lion escaped the enclosure or if the area was negligently maintained.
The zoo, based in Burlington, N.C., brings in over 16,000 guests each year to see its collection of more than 80 animals. They include over 20 species, including big cats like tigers, leopards and lions. The zoo made the news for a more positive reason in 2004, when it assisted the federal Department of Agriculture by rehoming 14 lions and tigers that were confiscated as they had been held in unacceptable or inhumane conditions.
In many cases, the owner of a property may be held accountable for injuries caused due to poor maintenance or dangerous conditions, such as a malfunctioning animal enclosure. A personal injury lawyer could help someone injured due to a property owner’s negligence to pursue compensation for their damages.