Joaquin Gutierrez Arnaiz, a zoo worker who was cleaning an elephant enclosure has been killed.
The man was killed after one of the mighty beasts hit him with her trunk, slamming his head against the cage’s bars.
Joaquin Gutierrez Arnaiz, suffered severe head injuries after the tragedy in Cabarceno Natural Park, in Spain.
Despite being rushed to hospital he died three hours later.
The female elephant was in the enclosure with her calf when the incident occurred, just after 8.30am on Tuesday, February 23, and it’s possible that she believed the young elephant was being threatened.
“We’re talking about unpredictable animals,” said Javier Lopez Marcano, the tourism minister in the regional government of Cantabria which owns the zoo.
“The force of the strike was tremendous," said Marcano, "of a size that one could not survive.”
He added that Joaquin was “a great lover of elephants and his work.”
A statement from the zoo read: “A worker at the Cabarceno Natural Park has died after being hit by one of the elephants.
“The accident occurred at 8.30am on Tuesday outside the stables of the pachyderms, as daily cleaning and release of the animals began."
The official statement continued: “Joaquin Gutierrez Arnaiz, 44, was in an intermediate security corridor that the elephants use to enter and exit their stables in an orderly fashion when he was hit by the elephant’s trunk.
“The elephant is a female who was with her calf in one of the large yards. Joaquin hit his head against the enclosure railings as he fell.
“Two colleagues who were with him dialled 112 and Joaquin was transferred to hospital by ambulance. He died at 11.15am."
“Police and Civil Guard have been to the park and initiated an investigation to clarify the cause of the accident," the official statement read.
“Joaquin’s death has caused great distress among his colleagues and Cantur, the publicly-owned company which manages the park.
“This is the first fatal accident that has occurred at Cabarceno Natural Park in 30 years.”
Cabarceno Natural Park is home to almost 120 animal species including wolves, tigers, lions and jaguars. Some of them are kept in “natural” enclosures with mixed species living together.
Police confirmed they had opened an investigation into the incident, the first of its kind in the park’s 31-year history.
Source: Daily Star UK