Elephant crushes keeper in Taronga Zoo attack

Ruth Doherty
Elephant crushes keeper in Taronga Zoo attack
Elephant crushes keeper in Taronga Zoo attack

Mr Shuffles' real name, Pathi Harn, means 'miracle': AFP

A female keeper is in a critical condition after being attacked and pinned against a bollard by an elephant at Sydney's Taronga Zoo in Australia.

Senior elephant keeper Lucy Melo was crushed by a two-and-a-half-year-old male Asian pachyderm called Pathi Harn, nicknamed Mr Shuffles, while carrying out routine training with him.

Ms Melo has worked at the zoo since 2004, and has looked after the elephant since his birth, which was described at the time as a miracle, as vets thought he had died inside his mother's womb.

The zookeeper was taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital for treatment. An ambulance spokeswoman said emergency services were called to the elephant enclosure and discovered a woman unconscious and not breathing, with multiple injuries.

New South Wales ambulance acting Inspector Andrew Wood said: "Once she went into cardiac arrest they worked on her for about five minutes and then her heart, she started breathing again on her own."

According to Sky News, a zoo spokesman said Ms Melo was conducting a routine training session when "a young male elephant pinned the female keeper against a bollard".

"Two other keepers in an adjoining stall responded to her call and moved the elephant away.
"An investigation has been immediately commenced into this incident and what may have prompted the reaction.

"It's unknown at this time why the young elephant challenged the keeper."

According to the Herald Sun, Lucy has dedicated her life to working with animals, and details her love of elephants on the zoo's website, which reads: "Every day I work with animals is amazing, but the highlights are definitely the births of our elephant calves, as well as flying in a jumbo jet with the elephants.

"The one on one relationships that I have with the elephants. They are just like people, only better.

"Having a connection with an animal is extremely satisfying and therapeutic. They truly give you unconditional love. I also feel proud that the work that we are doing is making a difference, and helping to save Asian Elephants from extinction."

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