Elephant kills trainer with trunk at Wakayama zoo

Indian elephants can grow to 6.4 meters in length and 3.5 meters in height, according to the World Wildlife Fund AFP

TOKYO —

An elephant whacked a trainer with its trunk and killed him at a Japanese zoo on Sunday, police said.

Wichai Madee from Thailand was washing the 3.5-ton Indian elephant with a colleague at Adventure World in the western prefecture of Wakayama when the giant animal swung its trunk and hit him. 

“The animal might have somehow become angry. It swung its trunk and the trunk hit the person who was working in front of the elephant,” a police spokesman told AFP.

“The person apparently was pushed hard and hit either the cage or the ground and hit his head.”

Other zoo staff called the police saying “an employee was attacked by an elephant”, according to private broadcaster TBS.

The 37-year-old trainer was taken to hospital but later died, police said.

The incident happened at 9:15 a.m. before the zoo opened its doors to the public.

© 2017 AFP

  • 14

    Yubaru

    I'm sorry the guy died but I hesitate to believe that the elephant did it without provocation. Elephants and humans have been living and working together for generations, and I hope nothing happens to this elephant because of this incident.

  • 9

    bruinfan

    I agree with Yubaru. I hope they don't quickly kill the elephant as he is likely right.

  • 2

    Mr. Noidall

    I would like to know what the elephant was being trained to do. Do you need to train an elephant to be an elephant?

  • 3

    FizzBit

    Im sure the elephant didn't mean to kill him. The trainer was probably bullying him.

  • 4

    Pukey2

    I would like to know what the elephant was being trained to do.

    Hmm, for circus tricks?

    The conditions in the typical Japanese zoo leaves a lot to be desired.

    Other zoo staff called the police saying “an employee was attacked by an elephant”,

    I would have thought paramedics rather than police would be the first to be called. Police won't be able to provide medical treatment.

  • 8

    Kobe White Bar Owner

    Just to add my piece Adventure World has pretty good conditions in comparison with other zoo's i've been to.

  • 3

    FightingViking

    As I mentioned in the article about the monkeys - zoos shouldn't even exist... Train some humans to do "tricks" and make a circus/zoo out of them...

  • 1

    lolozo79

    Hmm......an elephant never forgets. Perhaps the animal was irate at the confines of its enclosure? Such majestic creatures have to be really p.o. to attack humans. There's definitely more to this story than an elephant attacking a Thai handler. Thais have had a reciprocal relationship with elephants since forever.

  • 2

    gogogo

    Love the new Aussie translator , whacked, dodgy!

  • 5

    zichi

    Adventure World in Shirahama is not a zoo, its a theme park.

  • 4

    karlrb

    Jumping on the anti-zoo bandwagon because of a news blurb sorely lacking in details is not so .. Why the elephant did what it did, we'll probably never really know. Someone lost his life - that is too bad.

  • -10

    George Lechter

    Like Tilikum the whale who has killed three trainers, this elephant will kill again.

  • 1

    Cricky

    Zoos seem to be quite dangerous workplaces, personally my pet penguin gets agitated during summer and the Shetland poney does not ever appear happy in my 1Lk...who would have thought? Maybe a more natural environment might help or as I'm planning letting them free. Put me in a concrete box I might get a tad huffy too.

  • 4

    DaDude

    Hey, accidents happen, it is not like elephants are killing zookeepers on a daily basis. Same goes with the baby killed by a golden retriever a few days ago.

    RIP to the trainer

  • 0

    chisineko

    Having seen zoo keepers take perverse and intense delight in spraying water on animals, I can understand there could be an objection.

  • 7

    JohnDigsJapan

    @FightingViking, zoos do serve a function. Children and adults get to see the animals in a habitat the zoos try to closely resemble their own. If zoos weren't around, kids wouldn't really know much about those animals and care if they're endangered, etc. Why would they care about something they've never seen? And don't tell me the virtual world would compensate for lack of zoos. Out of sight is out of mind and natural habitats would be destroyed and our future generations wouldn't care because they wouldn't know the animals affected by it.

  • 1

    Mirza Nasir Uddin

    Any premature and professional death cause great pain to all considering the problems of the deceased family who may be the lone incomer of the family. People should have adequate safe guard while discharging their duties taking life with their hand. I believe the elephant might have some problems so that it can not repeat the same fate to other persons.

  • 4

    Lizz

    I agree it is important to give people a chance to touch wildlife in order to be touched by wildlife and want to save them.
    Every zoo, aquarium, rescue facility, wildlife refuge, and theme park has the ability to be good or evil. Most fall somewhere in between. Some people never get a chance to see or interact with wildlife outside of these places. A lot of visitors are not interested in the animal stuff but do like the rides and shows. As horrible as I used to think these rides at wildlife parks are, they are getting a wildlife education just by being there.Relocating all animals to a sanctuary would require tens of thousands of wildlife rangers and armed guards on 24/7 watch to protect them from poachers just at a practical level.

  • 5

    pacint

    Zoo also study animals and many endangered animals are raised there to before being introduced into the wild.

    The display of animals is just one part of their function.

  • 3

    toshiko

    Zoos exhibit animals. It is not circuses. Just washing and feedings are necessary or so I guess. Easing might be done by water hoses and vacuum cleaners I think.. I might be wrong.

  • -2

    nandakandamanda

    The elephant whacked him, but in the wild surely never enough to kill someone.

    His minder hit his head on concrete or iron, unnatural man-made materials.

  • 1

    Lizz

    Just washing and feedings are necessary or so I guess.

    I think it also allows keepers and veterinarians to do their jobs more safely and easily but it can all be done through purely positive reinforcement. The people who work with the elephants are the ones that need to learn to communicate properly, the elephants are obviously never at fault for any 'incorrect' responses given during the training process.

  • 0

    Kurobune

    @deadbeatles - In fact, one occupies the White House !

  • -5

    MsDelicious

    Zoos are cruel places.

  • 0

    Monozuki

    What a tremendous blow! But I don't think the elephant meant the trainer any harm. RIP.

  • 1

    scoobydoo

    Elephants can be aggressive, especial males in musk, why do people think they are so cute and cuddly and love people and wouldn't hurt them. If your pet gold fish were big enough it would kill you.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    RIP to the trainer, but it's the zoo's fault, not the elephant's.

  • -2

    browny1

    johndigsjapan - You said,

    "...zoos do serve a function. Children and adults get to see the animals in a habitat the zoos try to closely resemble their own. If zoos weren't around, kids wouldn't really know much about those animals and care if they're endangered, etc. Why would they care about something they've never seen?.."

    Habitats closely to their own??? - You're being cynical aren't you - nothing like concrete & iron "boxes" to represent savannah & jungle. Oh - but they're painted green.

    Why would they care about something they've never seen??? - You're being cynical aren't you - that's why people only care about pandas et al after they have seen them. Before that they have no idea. Their plight could all be lies, but seeing is believing.

  • 1

    CoconutE3

    What kind of living conditions does the Wakayama Adventure World provides for these elephants?

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