Elephant caretaker dies in tragic incident

Elephant Caretaker Killed When Animal Steps On Him

An elephant caretaker was killed in a tragic accident when he fell to the ground and one of the jumbo-sized animals stepped on him. The horrifying incident happened on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at the not-for-profit rehabilitation and educational facility that he helped to establish along with his brother. Two four-ton Asian elephants named Rosie and Opal reside at the facility, reported MSN.

Dr. James Laurita was the elephant caretaker killed by one of the animals he loved. Laurita was a veterinarian who co-founded Hope Elephants, a sanctuary for retired circus elephants in Maine. The man’s lifeless body was discovered inside one of the elephant enclosures. His chest had been crushed.

The medical examiner confirmed that the death of the 56-year-old elephant caretaker was an accident. Laurita sustained multiple chest fractures in the incident. His injuries were consistent with being stepped on by an elephant. He died from asphyxiation. Administrator for the state medical examiner’s office Mark Belserene spoke about the elephant caretaker’s death, USA Today reported.

“The elephant was not aggressive in any way. It was clearly an accident.”

The elephant caretaker so loved his precious charges that Hope Elephants owed him $300,000 at the time of his death, according to the organization’s website. To that end, the foundation has started a fundraising campaign so that people can donate money to cover his family’s expenses. The site described the good doctor’s generosity in detail, praising his total commitment to the cause.

“Jim sold his veterinary practice to raise money to fund the operation, lent money to the organization, deferred taking much of his already modest salary, funded equipment purchases, and more.”

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, another elephant made headlines when the Houston Zoo put her on a Jenny Craig-style diet. Tess is a female elephant at the zoo. At 7,700 pounds, Tess is just a bit overweight. It seems that Tess is 6 percent overweight to be exact, which doesn’t sound like much until you realize that 6 percent of 7,700 is 462 pounds. Elephant obesity just happens to be on the rise, and Tess is pregnant to boot. So the elephant caretaker and other zoo staffers are working hard to make sure the portly pachyderm sticks to her diet, walking and elephant yoga program while she awaits the birth of her fourth offspring.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]