3 tranquilizer darts, 8 bullets needed to take down lion after deadly attack, police report says

CASWELL COUNTY, NC -- Eight bullets and three tranquilizer darts were needed to put down the more than 400-pound lion that fatally attacked 22-year-old intern Alexandra Black, a recent Indiana University graduate, at a North Carolina wildlife conservatory over the weekend, according to a newly released police report.

The police report details the events that followed the attack by a lion named Matthai that occurred Sunday at the Conservators Center in Caswell County.

The attacked happened 10 days after Black, a native of New Palestine in central Indiana, started working at the center.

RELATED: Indiana University grad, 22, killed when lion escaped North Carolina enclosure

A "husbandry team" led by an animal keeper was carrying out a routine cleaning when the lion left a locked space and quickly attacked Black, officials said.

Alexandra Black, 22, was killed by a lion at a wildlife conservatory in North Carolina.



The report details the timeline of events as follows:

  • Deputies arrived at the scene after receiving a call about an animal attack
  • They made contact with the CEO of the center, Douglas Evans
  • He said that a tranquilizer gun was on the way to put the lion down
  • The fire department said they had hoses set up to spray the lion if he got too close to the victim, whose body had not been retrieved
  • The tranquilizer gun arrived, however, while Evans was preparing the dart with medication, the dart broke and they couldn't get the broken part back out of the gun
  • Evans then left to get another gun

  • Evans came back, this time with a blow dart. He told deputies that he retrieved it from his home, where he keeps the darts and medication
  • Evans blew two darts, which hit the lion but appeared to have no effect
  • While he was preparing a third dart, the lion jumped from one platform, down to the ground and then to the top of another structure
  • Evans hit the lion with a third dart. The lion jumped off the structure and then went inside the structure and laid down. After a few minutes, the lion still showed no signs of sleepiness
  • A firefighter then tried to use a hose to get the lion out of the structure and into the safety enclosure but the attempt failed and the lion started moving toward the victim once again
  • The lion passed by a sergeant at the scene and the sergeant shot the lion, using a 12 gauge shotgun, near the front right shoulder
  • The lion did not go down but instead ran back into the wooden structure
  • The sergeant fired a second time, hitting the lion in the same area. The lion did not go down. Another lieutenant put a third shot in the same area. After a few minutes, the lion still would not go down
  • The sergeant fired a fourth shot into the lion's right side. The lion moved inside the structure but still did not go down

  • The lion then came outside the structure and ran toward the fence where the deputies were standing. The sergeant put a fifth and sixth bullet into the lion but the lion continued to run
  • One of the deputies then shot the lion in the base of the neck, and he finally went down. A few minutes later, the lion stopped breathing
  • Evans told the sergeant that he would need to shoot the lion in the heart to make sure he was dead
  • The sergeant then shot the lion in the heart
  • Evans went into the enclosure and confirmed that the lion was dead
  • EMS went into the enclosure and confirmed that 22-year-old Alexandra Black had died from her injuries


Meanwhile, funeral arrangements were finalized for Black. Visitation will be 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Stillinger Family Funeral Home, Greenfield, Indiana. Funeral will be held at 6 p.m. at the funeral home.

The family has asked that memorial contributions be made to Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana, where a redesigned wolf enclosure will be dedicated in her honor.

WLS-TV contributed to this report.
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