Zookeeper Crushed To Death By Elephant Named "Patience" At Dickerson Park Zoo

Categories: Animals

Thumbnail image for elephant2.jpg
via Facebook/Dickerson Park Zoo
A 2009 photo showing John Bradford washing down Pinky.
John Bradford, 62, worked as a zookeeper for more than 30 years at the Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield. On Friday morning "Patience," a female, 41-year-old, 6,000-pound Asian elephant, crushed him against the ground, killing him instantly.

The incident only took seconds. Zoo officials say that Bradford was trying to coax Patience through a narrow corridor, or shoot, that leads from the elephant barn to the yard, when the elephant suddenly lunged forward, knocking Bradford into the shoot and fatally trampling him.

"He was an extremely well-trained animal handler," spokeswoman Cora Scott says of Bradford. Since Bradford's death, the Dickerson Zoo's Facebook page has become an ad-hoc memorial for the veteran zookeeper, with many posting pictures of the man along with their condolences.

See also: Officials: Pet Monkey Bites Godfrey Boy, 6, at Bark in the Park, Sending Him to Hospital

KY3 News
Patience, the elephant who killed zookeeper John Bradford on Friday.
The story is tragic enough as is, but Bradford's death is the second painful loss the zoo has endured this month: Last Friday Pinky, the 50-year-old matriarch of the zoo's elephant herd, died from kidney failure.

In fact, zookeepers had noticed Patience acting oddly hesitant and submissive in the time following Pinky's death, and were monitoring her closely.

A press release states that, in accordance with safety guidelines, Bradford had been accompanied by two other zookeepers while he was moving Patience through the shoot. Neither of the other zookeepers were injured during the incident.

The Springfield Police Department arrived on the scene to conduct an initial investigation, and Scott says more scrutiny will come from other city agencies as well as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Accreditation Commission.

John Bradford

See also: St. Louis County Police Dog Bites Suspect -- And City Cop -- During Lengthy Manhunt

Never one to sit silent when animal-related tragedy strikes, PETA released a statement over the weekend demanding Dickerson Zoo "close its elephant exhibit and send Patience and the three other remaining elephants to a reputable sanctuary."

Here's a clip from a KY3 news story shot last April that features Patience, who appears docile and even playful. (The zookeeper shown in the video is not John Bradford.)

Continue for the Dickerson Zoo's full press release, which contains more details on Bradford's tragic death.

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Must be caused by global warming

Audacious Melodious
Audacious Melodious

This is what happens when you force something out of it's natural habitat for selfish gain. They should already know these animals are not going to be kind for much longer after being caged up for so long.

Christ Curt Hrastich
Christ Curt Hrastich

That's like flipping out when a killer whale killed its trainer. A KILLER whale. They are from the wild for a reason.

Jorge Rodriguez Rodriguez Ruxin
Jorge Rodriguez Rodriguez Ruxin

And it will be put down....that makes me happy....but first I hope the torture the fuck out of it....beatings....poke with hot irons, pur m-80's up its ass! Happy times.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

someone played the guns n' roses song "patience" one too many times.

TheVal Willis
TheVal Willis

I feel bad that some one lost their life. ..but again its an elephant not a kitten

TheVal Willis
TheVal Willis

These poor animals..... its an elephant. Do they honestly think that they know any better

Scott Miniea
Scott Miniea

I think you mean "chute" rather than "shoot."

Nikki Fields
Nikki Fields

Elephants do not belong in zoos. Period. Sanctuaries yes; zoos no.

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