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Accident on the job kills Missouri zookeeper

A community in southwest Missouri is in mourning after a rare accident on the job killed a zookeeper who was tending to the zoo's elephants.

According to reports, the man was trying to move a 42-year-old female elephant named Patience from her stall to the nearby yard when the elephant stalled in the corridor connecting the two areas. When the zookeeper tried gently to persuade her to walk out into the yard, Patience instead rushed forward. The man fell underneath the elephant and was crushed by the animal's weight.

The employee had served as a zookeeper for 30 years and had managed the zoo's elephant herd since the late 1980s. While the zookeepers had been monitoring Patience's behavior following the death of the herd's dominant female, officials at the zoo seemed to be treating the incident as a tragic accident, saying that the elephant would not be put down and that no zoo employees would be facing sanctions. The zoo did inform the United States Department of Agriculture about the incident.

While Missouri residents might not think of places like zoos, amusements parks and other tourist attractions as places where workers are exposed to risky environments, this case illustrates that in fact a workplace accident can happen at one of these job sites that many might think are fun places to work. Like in any job, employees need to be properly trained and well-equipped to deal with unexpected surprises in their work environment. Thankfully, when tragedies like this do occur, workers' compensation is available for the victims or their families as the case may be.

Source: The Guardian "Elephant kills US zookeeper," Oct. 12, 2013

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