A longtime zookeeper in southwest Missouri was killed today when he was charged by an elephant, a spokeswoman for the city of Springfield said. John Bradford, 62, died when he was attacked by an elephant inside the area at the Dickinson Park Zoo where the elephants are housed, city spokeswoman Cora Scott said. Several employees were with Bradford at the time because the elephant had a history of being aggressive, she said.
The elephant, a 41-year-old female named Patience, had been at the zoo since 1990, according to officials for the Springfield zoo. Bradford worked at the zoo for 30 years and had been the zoo's elephant manager for 25 years. "It's an extremely sad time for the co-workers at the zoo and at the city," Scott said. Zoo officials said they did not yet know what would happen to Patience.