Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Zookeeper deaths

Although it is not among the 20 most dangerous professions, zookeeping can be as dangerous as it is rewarding. As you will read below, some zookeepers die a natural death while others' lives are cut short at the hands (or should I say the teeth and claws) of their wards.

April 12, 2007 Teenage zookeeper Melisa Casco, who worked at the Florencio Varela Zoo outside Buenos Aires, died during surgery after she was mauled by a giant anteater.

February 24, 2007 Zookeeper Ashlee Pfaff was killed by a jaguar at the Denver Zoo. "We do not work in fear of these animals, we work in respect of these animals. They are wild animals. They're hard-wired to still be wild. Even with years in a captive situation like in our exhibits."

May 15, 2007 A female zookeeper at Berlin's Tierpark was trampled to death by a musk ox.

May 20, 2007 A male zookeeper was killed by one of the tigers at a zoo in China.

Sept. 22, 2008 Thomas Doerflein, the zookeeper at Berlin Zoological Garden who became well-known for raising a polar bear cub, was found dead in his apartment of a heart attack. "It happens at least 20 times a day, I'll be walking somewhere and people will shout 'Knuuut, Knuuut!' Before, there were a few women in their 60s interested in me. Now when I leave work I get besieged by young women. I'm afraid to go out there."

May 27, 2009 Senior big cat handler Dalu MnCube (3rd image) was killed by a white tiger at Zion Wildlife Gardens in Whangareil, New South Wales, Australia. "Dalu had a great ability with animals. He was a very, very unique man in a number of different ways."

Dec. 31, 2009 A recently hired male zookeeper at Nanhai Wildlife Park in Madian, Henan Province, China, was attacked and killed by an African lion.

Feb. 16, 2010 Wally English (1st image), a legendary zookeeper at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, died of cancer at the age of 67. "You had to get to know him and ask questions before he told you much about his work. He didn't give himself the credit he deserved."

Feb. 24, 2010 Animal trainer Dawn Brancheau (2nd image) of Seaworld in Orlando, Florida, was fatally attacked while performing with a killer whale. "When she got her interview at SeaWorld, it was the happiest day in our family. We were so proud of her. She talked about it her whole life. She knew she wanted to work with the animals and SeaWorld was her dream."

March 6, 2010 Li Zhonglin, a zookeeper at the Shanghai Zoo, was attacked and killed by a Bengal tiger.

Jan. 15, 2011 Stephanie James, an elephant trainer at Knoxville Zoo in Tennessee, was accidentally crushed to death by one of the 8,000lb animals. "The elephants, they are always looking for enrichment and she really had fun thinking of new ways to make their life more fun."

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