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Services set for New Palestine native killed in lion attack

Posted: 5:50 PM, Jan 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-02 22:50:57Z
Black family.jpg

Carolyn Black, left, with her daughters, (from left to right) Alexandra, Sarah, and Cate. Alexandra, died Sunday after she was attacked by a lion at an animal conservatory in North Carolina. (Photo provided by the family)

NEW PALESTINE — Visitation and funeral services have been set for a New Palestine native who was attacked and killed by a lion at a North Carolina animal conservatory on Sunday.

Visitation for Alexandra "Alex" Black will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday at Stillinger Family Funeral Home, 1780 W. Main St., Greenfield, with a celebration of life service to follow at 6 p.m. A private family burial will be held on Monday.

Black, 22, a 2014 graduate of New Palestine High School and 2018 graduate of Indiana University, died Sunday at the Conservators Center in Burlington, N.C., where she had been an intern for less than two weeks.

According to her obituary, Black graduated with a bachelor's degree in animal behavior with a minor in biology from IU and spent hundreds of hours on internships including Wildcare Inc. in Bloomington, Wildcat Creek Wildlife Center near Delphi, Wolf Park in Battle Ground and her first out-of-state internship at the Conservators Center. Black also volunteered for Frenzy Animal Rescue in New Palestine.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Sarah Black, 20, Alex's sister, remembered her sister.

"I have never lived a day without my big sister. Until this day," Sarah wrote. "I am so scared that in a week this will blow over and the posts will stop, but my life has come to a screeching halt and I will never be okay because I have never lived a day without my big sister. Until this day."

A report from the Caswell County, N.C. Sheriff's Office shows it took eight shotgun shots from deputies to kill the lion following the attack on Black after three efforts to tranquilize the animal failed.

Officials from the Conservators Center said the attack happened while a husbandry team, including a professionally-trained animal keeper, were carrying out a routine enclosure cleaning. The lion escaped from a locked space and entered the area where the crew was working to clean the enclosure. It is unclear how the lion left the locked enclosure. The center is closed until further notice.

The lion, a 14-year-old male named Matthai, was born at the center shortly after his mother was placed at the center following a U.S. Department of Agriculture-assisted confiscation in 2004.

Bryan Miller, county manager for Caswell County, N.C., told ABC News' Stephanie Ramos the sheriff's office has completed its initial investigation and the county's animal control office has completed its investigation. The county is awaiting further investigation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The family has asked people to donate to Wolf Park in Battle Ground in honor of Alex.

Read the full statement from Sarah Black, Alex's sister:

I have never lived a day without my big sister. Until this day. I am so scared that in a week this will blow over and the posts will stop, but my life has come to a screeching halt and I will never be okay because I have never lived a day without my big sister. Until this day. Alex would be so pissed that people are using her full name. She’d complain about the pictures they’re using. She’d cringe at the posts from people she never spoke to. But instead I have to. Because I have never lived a day without my big sister. Until this day. “5 Things You Need To Know About Alexandra Black” the headlines read. They speak of her love of animals and misquote information about her. I can list more than a million things you need to know about my big sister. 1. She went to Indiana University. NOT Indiana State. 2. Of course she loved animals, but she fell absolutely in love with wolves after working in Battleground. 3. She never got paid for doing what she loved. 4. She was an activist. She knew what she believed in and stuck to her grounds. She would not compromise the things she valued. 5. She and I used to put on nice dresses to go crawdad fishing in the creek in our backyard using sticks and string and cold hot dogs. More often than not, we ate the hot dogs and just played in the water. 6. She loved RuPaul’s Drag Race and was a strong ally for the LGBTQ+ community. She was so excited to find out Latrice was going to be on All Stars. Who else is going to send me Trixie Mattel memes at 3 in the morning? 7. Alex overanalyzed probably everything. She’d step back and tell you when things you were saying had a deeper meaning and what things were unhealthy for your mental space. She advocated for mental health all the time. 8. She worked to bring awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault while we led a Speak Out! Club in high school. She had the biggest heart and would not tolerate abuse in relationships. 9. She was SO funny. Alex made me follow an Instagram page that makes comics about birds and they’re all weird jokes that I feel like so few people would understand but they were so witty and smart and she would always dm them to me when she knew I was having a bad day. 10. Alex’s favorite place to shop was goodwill. She would always bring home these weird treasures, so excited about how cheap they were. She couldn’t wait until she could decorate her own home with this stuff. 11. She was learning American sign language and would come home and teach us words and phrases. 12. She wanted to see change in this world. There are so many more things about Alex that I couldn’t possibly list here, but I want to emphasize her humanity. She was real. Not just some headline. She was my sister. And I have never lived a day without my big sister. Until this day. There are a few things that have kept me going these past 24 hours. One being that I know she would not be able to live with herself if she hadn’t been the one killed. If the lion had gotten one of the other 2 people in the enclosure, she would have done anything to give her life instead of theirs. I have so many beautiful memories with her that have come flooding to my mind. I can see just how many lives she’s touched in the 22 years she has been here. It feels like everyone in the world has reached out to ask if we are okay. Well, no. I’m not okay. Because I have never lived a day without my big sister. Until this day. She will never be my bridesmaid. She will never meet her nieces and nephews. And as dumb as it sounds, she won’t even get to use the face masks I got her for Christmas. The smallest things hurt the most. I just want to give her one more awkward hug and let her know just how much I really do love her. Today it is raining to match my tears. I don’t know when I will ever see a dry day. Because, I have never lived a day without my beautiful big sister. Until this day. My heart is broken.

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