Employee dies in workplace accident at North Carolina Zoo

Entrance to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC (Source: nczoo.org).

A North Carolina Zoo employee was killed at the zoo in a "workplace accident" Thursday morning, zoo officials said.

The accident was reported about 8:20 a.m. A state Labor Department spokesman said the death was an arborist who fell 20 to 30 feet from a tree during an aerial rescue drill. Officials said the accident was not related to any of the animals.

"The entire Zoo community is deeply saddened by this loss and our thoughts and sympathies are with the family of our team member," zoo officials said.

The identity of the employee has not been released.

The North Carolina Zoo is located outside Asheboro, NC, which is about 80 miles (123 km) northeast of Charlotte. The Zoo is the world's largest natural habitat zoo with more than 1,800 animals from more than 250 species, according to its website.

The agency is managed by the state's Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

The Zoo closed the Africa section of the park to the public and said it would close the entire park at 2 p.m. Thursday.

This story was reported on from Charlotte, N.C.