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Elephant, Chimpanzee Attack Zoo Workers

Written by PETA | January 19, 2011
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One zoo employee has been killed and another maimed in incidents at two separate zoos on the same day. At Riverside Discovery Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, a chimpanzee bit a worker on the hand, severing two of her fingers and injuring a third. At the Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, elephant handler Stephanie James died from injuries she sustained when an elephant crushed her against a wall.

These incidents illustrate the very real dangers posed by captive exotic animals—and why laws like those recently passed in Ohio and Oregon that ban exotic “pets” are so desperately needed. Attacks like the one on Ms. James are part of the reason why we’re encouraging all zoos to switch to a protected-contact system of handling—and we’re even offering to cover part of the costs.

In protected contact, which is already being used by more than half the accredited zoos in the country, a safety barrier is kept between elephants and handlers at all times. This eliminates the “need” to establish dominance over elephants through beatings with bullhooks and other forceful control methods. The Knoxville Zoo has temporarily implemented protected contact since the trainer’s death and is re-evaluating its elephant-handling program.

Written by Michelle Sherrow

Commenting is closed.
  • DPARKER11 says:


  • Evelyn says:

    Humens have LOST RESPECT for Gods Creatures, They are acting worst than cave men crazyer than a SAVAGE!WHAT KIND OF WORLD ARE WE IN?

  • Hillsy says:

    I LOVE Rex’s comment! These animals should enjoy their lives as much as any human does, they deserve it more than most humans do! When will our species learn domination and greed get us nowhere? How many more people and animals acting only on instinct have to die before we learn to leave them be?

  • Evelyn says:

    THEY DONT BELONG THERE IN TTHE FRIST PLACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AndreaNRC says:

    Good idea,Knoxville.I have no idea where common sense was hiding when you and all the other zoos thought it would be safe to handle exotic animals as if they were a dog or cat..

  • Irene Leggett says:

    So tragic and sad to read that another person has lost their life to a wild animal held in captivity for our ‘entertainment’ or the zoo’s monetary greed whichever applies.

  • Rex's Mom says:

    If I had MY way, all captive elephants would be sent to elephant sanctuaries like the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee or the PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society) sanctuary in California. There are no bullhooks and the elephants there can just be elephants. There are no tours and the elephants are never bred or sold. There is plenty of acreage for them to just roam around all day and there are pools for them to swim and splash in. Elephants are my favorite animals and also the most abused by heartless, cruel humans in zoos and circuses.

  • Gala says:

    When will people learn that they are not the masters of the world and all its inhabitants? We are all living, sentient beings that deserve the same treatment as everyone else. This includes all animals, and any other living thing (yes bugs, too) on the planet.

  • Teri says:

    It’s terrible what happened to to the zoo employees, but this is yet another example by zoos are pitiful prisons for animals.