Zookeeper Killed by Charging Elephant
'Patience' had a history of aggression
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 11, 2013 2:07 PM CDT
File photo (not the elephant Patience).   (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

(Newser) – 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.

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Oct 13, 2013 2:10 PM CDT
Zoos normally have a policy of not being in enclosures with animals, remaining isolated from the animal and not being allowed in close proximity even while they are outside the enclosure. The keepers usually work in teams when stimulating or attending to the animals needs [grooming or medical treatments]. It would appear that the keeper with great expertise with this particular animal violated the rules. You have to maintain a high degree of diligence when working in many professions, this one not being the exception. Animals can be very unpredictable particularly when in captivity. A swipe from their trunk could inadvertently severely injure or kill someone as this appendage is extremely strong.
Oct 13, 2013 11:17 AM CDT
These animals travel as a family hundreds of miles a year seeking food & water. Keeping them in cages is just cruel.
Oct 12, 2013 4:29 AM CDT
This does happen when you cage wild animals.