The North Carolina Zoo Society said Branson Joe Langley was engaged in an aerial rescue drill when he fell 20-30 feet from a tree.
Stay on top of breaking news stories with the ABC11 News App
No animals were involved in the drill, which involved two arborists -- one simulating a person trapped in a tree and the other performing a rescue.
Langley was pronounced dead at the scene.
He was described as a "dedicated and beloved arborist."
"It is a sad and tragic day for us," Simmons said. "Heartbroken to announce that one of ours died during a scheduled drill."
Officials said that the entire Africa section of the park was closed off the entire day.
"The entire Zoo community is deeply saddened by this loss and our thoughts and sympathies are with the family of our team member," the Zoo said in a statement.
The Zoo is providing grief counseling for its staff.
Officials have established a trust fund for Langley's 9-year-old daughter, Maggie.
If you wish to donate to "The Maggie Fund," you are asked to make a donation here or mail a check to:
The Maggie Fund
In care of The North Carolina Zoo Society
4403 Zoo Parkway
Asheboro, NC 27205
Randolph County Sheriff's Office Deputy Trogdon said the investigation is ongoing. The Department of Labor and OSHA are also investigating.