In the wake of an investigation that alleged that animal care was "severely lacking" at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., the zoo has released a report giving the details of a Nov. 18 zebra attack on a zookeeper that also resulted in the death of a spooked gazelle. The report says that "human error" was to blame for the 900-pound male Grevy's zebra escaping through an unlocked stall gate into a holding yard and attacking a zookeeper, kicking and biting him.
The report says that Wayne Millner, a veteran zookeeper who was just about to retire and reportedly has no recollection of the incident, "did not follow proper protocols" when the 10-year-old zebra named Gumu attacked him.
Millner suffered serious injuries and had to be hospitalized after the incident with Gumu, who is known to be more aggressive than the other zebras at the zoo. According to the report, staff members and a volunteer keeper aide rescued Millner by distracting the zebra and shifting it to a different secure location.
In response to another report released this week that examined the deaths of several animals at the zoo, Director Dennis Kelly has said the lapses are due to the park's strapped finances and stretched staff. "I can't spread this staff any more thin than it is now," he said.