D.C.

National Zoo zebra attack result of human error

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(WJLA) - A safety inspector with the National Zoo says human error is to blame for a zebra attack that seriously injured a keeper.

Photo: WTOP - Kristi King

The keeper was bitten several times while inside the enclosure on Nov. 18. 

A Smithsonian safety inspector says the gates and doors from the zebra stall to the adjoining yard where the keeper was working were not properly closed. According to the zoo, the two should have never been in the same place.  Grevy's zebras are considered dangerous and aggressive animals.

A staff and a volunteer rescued the injured keeper by distracting the zebra. The zebra was not injured and has been under observation by the zoo.

A dama gazelle nearby was apparently spooked by the attacfk and died when it ran into a barrier and broke its neck. 

HIPPA regulations prevent the zoo from commenting on the zookeeper's health status, but Annalisa Meyer, a National Zoo spokesperson, says he is out of the hospital. 

Meyer also says the zookeeper is a veteran and has decades of experience. 

"We wish him a speedy recovery," she says. 

The zoo says it will review the report recommendatons, which include making sure all workers know the rules and have First Aid training.

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