Elephant Kills Zookeeper in Spain With One Strike from Trunk

The death is the first such incident in the park’s 31-year history. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

The Cantabrian regional government says 44-year-old Joaquín Gutiérrez died in a hospital on Tuesday, several hours after a female elephant struck him with its trunk while he was cleaning its enclosure at the Cabárceno Nature Park near Santander.

The blow knocked Gutiérrez back and he hit his head against the pen’s bars, officials said.

Gutiérrez had been working with elephants at the zoo for almost 20 years, local tourism chief Javier López Marcano said in a statement on the regional government’s website.

The elephant that struck him had a foot infection and is likely pregnant, Marcano said. She weighs more than 4 metric tons (4.4 tons) .

Zoo and regional officials could not immediately be contacted Friday.

Police and CANTUR, the regional tourism organization that runs Cabárceno, are investigating the attack.

SOURCE: The Associated Press