Elephant cleared after crushing zookeeper

By Time of article published Nov 21, 2004

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Beijing - An elephant that stamped on his keeper at a Chinese zoo in the mating season and crushed him to death has been declared innocent because of mitigating circumstances, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

Hu Tianmin was cleaning the elephant house at the zoo in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, in August when the five-ton, 20-year-old male Asian elephant named "Zhongbo" lifted him up, threw him to the ground and stamped on him.

"The production safety administration in Kunming confirmed that the victim was responsible for his own tragedy because he had entered the elephant pen all alone and without adopting any protective measures, in violation of zoo rules," Xinhua said.

Zoo officials said it was the mating season and the elephant was possibly suffering from sunstroke at the time, which made it irritable and prone to attack.

The general manager of the zoo and at least four officials in charge of security were penalised by the production safety administration, Xinhua said without giving details.

"Visitors and zookeepers have been advised not to get too close to the animals in future," it said.

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