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Former Houston zookeeper critically injured by elephant at Sydney zoo

Former Houston zookeeper critically injured by elephant at Sydney zoo

Credit: TARONGO ZOO

Lucy Melo

Associated Press & KHOU.com staff

Posted on October 19, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 19 at 2:59 PM

SYDNEY -- A keeper at Sydney’s premier zoo has been critically injured by an elephant calf that crushed her against a fence post.

Taronga Zoo Chief Executive Cameron Kerr says Lucy Melo was washing the 2-year-old male Asian elephant in a barn when it pinned her on Friday.

Kerr says fellow keepers immediately came to her rescue and moved the elephant away before calling an ambulance.

Melo was conscious when the ambulance arrived, but then went into cardiac arrest. Her heart stopped for five minutes, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

At last check, Melo was in critical but stable condition at a Sydney hospital.

Kerr says the attack happened in public view, although the public was never at risk. The cause of the attack is under investigation.

Former colleagues say Melo had an intense connection with the elephants and believed she could communicate with them telepathically, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Lucy was part of the a team that went to Thailand to bring the first five Asian Elephants to Sydney, and she has been part of the successful Conservation Breeding Program ever since, according to her bio on the Torango Zoo website. Since the herd arrived in 2006, three calves have been born and Lucy has helped raise them.

"I enjoy 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," she said on the bio. "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."

Melo was an elephant keeper at the Houston Zoo from 1997 to 2000.

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