A zookeeper in Salzburg, Austria has been crushed to death by a rhinoceros.
The keeper, who has only been identified publicly as a 33-year-old woman from the German state of Bavaria, was working early in the morning on Tuesday with at least one rhino at the Salzburg Hellbrunn Zoo. Around 7:00 a.m. local time, though, tragedy struck.
Zoo officials are still trying to piece together exactly what happened. What they do know is the woman was crushed to death by the rhino, which has been identified as a female named Yeti (who is not the animal pictured above, FYI). There was also a 34-year-old male zookeeper in the enclosure at the time. He was injured while trying to assist his colleague.
Salzburg Hellbrunn Zoo spokesperson Sabine Grebner held a news conference about the ordeal late on Tuesday morning. Grebner told reporters the incident happened during what were supposed to be routine morning rounds. Every morning, the zoo’s rhinos are fed and treated with insect repellent. But something was tragically different on this morning.
Grebner told reporters that officials still don’t have answers:
“We do not know exactly how it happened.”
Per Reuters, Grebner confirmed the female zookeeper killed was “very experienced and specialized in rhinos.” Other than suffering “chest injuries” while being crushed, it’s not clear what led to the death. The male zookeeper was also taken to a local hospital with injuries, but that outlet reports “his life is not in danger.”
Police in the city of Salzburg also released a brief statement to the media. Per the AP, a law enforcement spokesperson said:
“ for reasons that are still unknown. The woman succumbed to her injuries at the scene of the accident.”
Yeti one of several rhinos that have been at the zoo for “years,” per Grebner. Historically, the rhinos have been “cooperative” with their keepers.
For now, as the investigation continues, the zoo will remain closed through the rest of Tuesday and Wednesday, per CNN.
Sending our condolences to the family, friends, loved ones, and fellow zookeepers of the woman killed.
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