An elephant zookeeper in Missouri was crushed to death by an elephant named Patience, that he cared for. The incident occurred when 62-year-old John Phillip Bradford, the manager of the elephant enclosure at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, tried to coax Patience through a chute in the barn.
Bradford was then knocked into the chute and crushed by the elephant. Initial reports that the zookeeper was charged at by the elephant were later changed, confirming Patience only “lunged forward” and didn’t intentionally kill Mr. Bradford.
Cora Scott, a spokeswoman for the city, said that: “The whole incident took place in a matter of seconds.” She said that patience had been acting “hesitant and submissive” following the recent death of the herd’s matriarch.
There had been some talk that Patience should be euthanized following the death of the elephant zookeeper. There were also reports that Patience and her sister Moola had “a history of aggression towards handlers”. In an official statement the city confirmed later that: “The animal will not be euthanized.”
Patience, a 41-year-old Asian elephant, has lived at the zoo for over 20 years. The zookeeper, Bradford, who was tragically killed, had worked caring for elephants for over 30 years.
Scott said of the death: “It’s a very devastating time for our zoo family.”
Ed Hansen from the American Association of Zoo Keepers said that due to excellent safety procedures in place, American zoos had a low rate of zookeeper deaths. He spoke about the incident: “You’re talking about an animal that weighs between four and five tons — even the shifting of body weight can cause injury or death.”
What do you think of the elephant zookeeper death at Dickerson Park Zoo? Of course it is tragic but do you think enough safety measures are in place, in general, to avoid this type of accident? Share your thoughts in the feed below.