Heartbreaking details emerge about the Prague Zoo accident

A zoo employee was injured by an elephant on Sunday. Turns out, the elephant's behavior was triggered by the voice of her baby in the next cubicle.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 11.04.2022 10:35:00 (updated on 14.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

This story was updated April 13, 2022 to reflect new details in the story.

The breeder from Prague Zoo suffered fractures of the pelvis and serious elbow injuries on Sunday morning as she was injured by the elephant Tamara. The woman underwent surgery on Sunday.

According to the director of Prague Zoo, Miroslav Bobek, the reason for the female elephant's behavior was the voice of her baby elephant in the next cubicle, he said on Wednesday morning. 

The 31-year-old zoo employee had to be taken to the hospital for injuries to her pelvis, chest, and arm. In a Facebook post, Bobek also gave an update on the current health state of the injured employee. 

"With the consent of the affected colleague, we report that in addition to the pelvic fractures, which are being treated conservatively, she has suffered serious elbow injuries."

As a result of the incident, the breeders immediately switched to working with the elephants Tamara and Janita in protected contact.

Rescuers arrived at the zoo in Prague’s Troja district at approximately 8 am. “We sent a medical rescue crew and an inspector to the site. We took care of a 31-year-old woman who suffered an injury to her pelvis, chest, and upper limb, and she was conscious at all times,” Prague Rescue Service spokeswoman Jana Poštová said, adding that the victim was given an injection of pain medication.

The woman, whose name was not disclosed, was taken to the Central Military Hospital by paramedics.

Zoo spokeswoman Dana Alena Maděrová told news server iDnes.cz that incidents such as this are not common. “I admit I don't know anything like that and it’s definitely unique. We have security regulations and nothing like this usually happens in our country," Maděrová said.

She confirmed that the situation was resolved quickly and that the staff had not made any obvious errors in dealing with the animals.

Police have already closed their investigation, having found no wrongdoing. “The case is being dealt with as an accident at work,” Police spokeswoman Violeta Siřišťová said, according to new server Deník.cz.

Prague Zoo opened in 1931 and has had elephants since 1933. Currently, the herd consists of nine Indian elephants. The youngest are two females, who were born in March and May 2020 to Tamara and Janita, another female in the herd. Both Tamara and Janita are originally from Sri Lanka. They both also gave birth six years ago to two male elephants, Rudi and Max.

The herd’s oldest member is the female Gulab, which the zoo acquired in 1966. Her long-time companion, the elephant Shanti, came to Prague from India as a cub in 1977. The herd’s final member is a male named Ankhor, who was born in Burma (now Myanmar) in 1983. The zoo’s Elephants Valley complex opened in 2013 and cost CZK 500 million.

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