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Zoo makes safety changes after zookeeper killed by elephant

Jan. 15, 2014 at 3:02 PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Officials at a Missouri zoo say they have made changes in safety procedures after a zookeeper was killed by an elephant in October.

The changes at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield were initiated even though a city investigation found the zookeeper's actions were consistent with training guidelines, the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader reported Wednesday.

Elephant manager John Bradford died Oct 11 as he was trying to get a female elephant, Patience, to move into a elephant restraint device chute so she could be fed and trained, the investigative report found.

When Bradford reached into the chute with a livestock guide to get Patience to reposition herself, the report said the elephant lunged at him, knocking him backward into a closed gate. The elephant then crushed him with her head.

Under the adopted changes, zoo staff will approach elephants no closer than a trunk's reach from the other side of the chute. A second zookeeper will hold a small electric prod should an elephant grab someone with its trunk.

The zoo also may make changes to the chute to more safely accommodate male elephants when they need foot care, the report added. A senior keeper is also observing safety procedures currently used by zoo staff.

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