WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Human Error, Not Zebra, Responsible For National Zoo Attack

Play associated audio
One of the National Zoo's three male zebras, looking conspicuously innocent.
Keith Ivey: http://www.flickr.com/photos/17218700@N00/1097065370
One of the National Zoo's three male zebras, looking conspicuously innocent.

The investigation launched after a zookeeper at the National Zoo was attacked and seriously injured by a zebra last month finds human error led to the incident.

The investigation finds the zookeeper broke protocol by leaving open the gates from the zebra's stall to the adjoining yard. This allowed Gumu, an 800-pound male zebra, to enter the same space as the zookeeper and bite him several times.

The investigation also finds that while protocols are in place to care for the animals, the zoo needs to document training for handlers more thoroughly.

Spokesperson Pamela Baker-Masson says the zookeeper who was injured has worked at the zoo for more than 20 years.

"The person injured was a veteran," Baker-Masson says. "You know he's worked and done this job successfully for many years. So he's well-trained, but we don't have is the documentation of the actual training."

Baker-Masson says a staff member and volunteer rescued the zookeeper by distracting the zebra.

"They were able to communicate well with him and get that zebra shifted away and secure so they could get in there very quickly and come to his aid."

The National Zoo is now conducting an internal audit of management protocols.

Earlier this week, the zoo's director suggested that a shortage of resources has stretched staff too thin and may have been at least partially responsible for the attack.


French Bulldog At Heart Of New Children's Book 'Naughty Mabel'

Mabel is a naughty French bulldog at the center of a new children's book by Nathan Lane and Devlin Elliott. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Lane about his inspiration for the fictional dog.

How Do We Get To Love At 'First Bite'?

It's the season of food, and British food writer Bee Wilson has a book on how our food tastes are formed. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with her about her new book, "First Bite: How We Learn to Eat."

Snapshots 2016: Trump's Message Resonates With A Master Cabinet Maker

From time to time during this election season we'll be introducing you to ordinary people that our reporters meet out on the campaign trail. Today: a snapshot from a Donald Trump rally in New Hampshire.

What Is Li-Fi And When Will You Use It To Download Everything Faster?

Li-Fi is a lot like Wi-Fi, but it uses light to transmit data. NPR's Scott Simon speaks to the man who invented the faster alternative: Harald Haas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.