Asheboro, N.C. — A worker at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro was killed Thursday morning in a workplace accident while performing a rescue drill at the facility, authorities said.
Zoo officials did not identify the worker or provide details about how the employee died, but officials said in a written statement that they have closed the Africa section of the park to zoo visitors.
“The Zoo is working closely with investigators to determine details of the incident, which was not related to any of the Zoo’s animals,” a spokesman for the North Carolina Zoo said.
The state Department of Labor confirmed to WRAL News that an arborist participating in an aerial rescue drill fell 20 to 30 feet from a tree and died at the scene.
State officials declined to release more information about the accident, pending an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Division.
The zoo, located at 4401 Zoo Parkway and south of the city, posted a message about the fatal accident on its website, alerting guests about the zoo’s decision to close at 2 p.m. Thursday, three hours early.
In May, the zoo unveiled its new virtual reality theater where guests can take a five-minute “tour” through Africa and go “nose-to-nose” with elephants, rhinos and giraffes. It’s called Expedition AFRICA-A Virtual Reality Experience.
The new attraction replaced the zoo’s 4D theater.
According to the tourist attraction’s website, it sits on 2,600 acres in Randolph County. The facility sits on 500 developed acres and is ranked as the world’s largest natural habitat zoo, according to the attraction’s website.
The agency is managed by the state’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
The North Carolina Zoo initiated a review of its safety protocols earlier this year after an intern at Conservators Center animal preserve in Caswell County was killed when a lion was able to escape its enclosed pen.
Published at Thu, 18 Jul 2019 20:34:08 +0000