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Safari park elephant keeper dies in attack

Oct. 16, 2012 at 3:44 PM

SHIZUOKA, Japan, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- An elephant keeper at a Japanese safari park died Tuesday after an elephant that had recently given birth attacked him, police said.

The caged Asian elephant attacked Inthavong Khamphone, 30 -- a Laotian national employed by Fuji Safari Park, near the foot of Mt. Fuji -- as Inthavong was performing a customary check on the baby elephant around 3:10 A.M. Tuesday, police and park officials said.

Inthavong was found collapsed and bleeding when he was removed from the enclosure, The Mainichi reported. The Tokyo-based newspaper said Inthavong had been with the park since July after 15 years of involvement in elephant-keeping.

Staff typically observe mother and baby elephants from a distance at the park, but officials said Inthavong entered the enclosure after the mother showed signs of harming the baby.

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