Ohio Zoo Employee Injured by Komodo Dragon

25 Mar, 2024 Liz Carey

                               

Akron, OH (WorkersCompensation.com) – A zoo worker is recovering after being injured trying to break up a fight between two Komodo dragons.

According to a statement from the Akron Zoo, an unidentified worker was bitten by one of the Komodo dragons on March 3.

"Our initial investigation establishes that most injuries came as the result of bite wounds inflicted by one of the Komodo dragons," the statement said.

The employee was not named, citing privacy concerns, and was recovering at home.

"Safety is, and will remain, the utmost priority for our staff, visitors and animals," the zoo said in a statement.

Zoo officials said the dragon, Jasper, was also injured in the fight, but was stable and recovering.

The Zoo said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had investigated the incident and found “no employer violations of safety standards by the Akron Zoo.”

A spokesman with OSHA, Scott Allen, said the zoo cooperated with the investigation.

"Two male Komodo dragons unintentionally entered the same cage and attacked each other," Allen said. "The injured employee instinctively tried to intervene and was injured by the larger male Komodo dragon."

Allen said the zoo had indicated it would provide “extensive” follow-up training for the affected employees.

Another Komodo dragon, who was not involved in the employee's injuries, was also injured during the altercation.

Zoo workers face dangers dealing with animals caged in the zoos.

Viral video from two weeks ago showed two workers a zoo in Fort Worth, Texas freeing themselves from an exhibit with a silverback gorilla.

The workers entered the display yard with a silverback gorilla named Elmo, when the gorilla was allowed to enter the yard. In the video, the ape is seen following one of the zookeepers as another hides.

Moving slowly and calmly, the employees were able to escape without incident.

"Thankfully, there was no physical contact between keepers and gorilla, and all staff and animals are safe," zoo spokesperson Avery Elander said in a statement Friday.

In October 2023, in Utica, New York, a lion injured a staff member during routine closing procedures.

According to zoo officials, the staff member was feeding the male African lion when he was attacked. The staff member was injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. The lions, the zoo said, were enclosed and did not pose a danger to the public, the zoo said.

"There will be no punitive action against our lions," said Andria Heath, executive director, said in a statement. “An incident occurred which is being reviewed, will be learned from and we are all grateful our staff and animals are okay."

Zoo staff informed the Association of Zoos and Aquariums of the incident and took the lions off-exhibit- during its review of its procedures.

In August of last year, a zookeeper was attacked by a monkey at the Jackson Zoo in Jackson, Miss., and suffered non-life threatening injuries.

“There was an incident inside the monkey enclosure at the zoo on Saturday, while the zookeeper was servicing the animal,” Director of Communications Melissa Faith Payne with the city of Jackson said. “The zookeeper was injured as a result of the incident, which involved one monkey.”

Previously, at the same zoo, an Asiatic Black Bear temporarily escaped its enclosure and got into a hallway behind his enclosure. He was never a danger to the public, officials said.

And in 2021, a cheetah attacked a zookeeper at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. Zoo officials did not reveal the keeper’s identity or the extent of the person’s injuries, citing privacy.

According to reports, zoo team members were walking the 4-year-old cheetah, Isabelle, for her daily exercise. Officials said she was harnessed as staff members led her from the Heart of Africa exhibit to the behind-the-scenes yard.

A keeper from the Heart of Africa region who worked with giraffes and other hoofed stock approached, and Isabelle’s handlers invited the keeper to come closer since Isabelle was cam and purring. As the other keeper approached, Isabell crouched down and lunged at the keeper.

The Liberty Township Fire Department was called to the scene and treated the keeper on site who was later transported to a local hospital for evaluation, officials said in a prepared news release.

Zoo officials believed the scent of the other animals on the keeper triggered Isabelle’s natural instinct to attack.

“Right now we’re just trying to iron out exactly what happened,” Suzi Rapp, the zoo's vice president of animal programs, said at the time. “I can tell you the person is OK.”

According to a story in CNN, between 1990 and 2016 there were 256 injuries from animal attacks at accredited and non-accredited zoos, menageries and wild animal parks in the U.S. Of those 33 died from their injuries. The majority of those attacks occurred between animals and their trainers or zookeepers.


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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