Tennessee Zoo Fined After Elephant Kills Worker

June 8, 2011

Tennessee workplace safety officials have recommended more than $12,000 in fines at the Knoxville Zoo after an elephant killed a worker earlier this year, a television station reported.

The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration released its report, which was cited by WBIR-TV.

A telephone call to the zoo’s marketing department was not immediately returned.

Not all the fines relate to the death of 33-year-old Stephanie Elaine James. She was killed Jan. 14 while offering a treat to a female African elephant named Edie. The largest of the fines — $5,400 — is for failure to protect employees from a recognized hazard.

The fines total $12,600 and include such violations as operating a saw with a damaged electrical cord and not anchoring a bench grinder.

Further details of the fatal incident are included in the summary report by TOSHA. It states that the elephant intentionally hit James on her left side with its trunk and then turned its head, knocking her into steel beams in the stall. James died later at a hospital.

The report notes that Edie was born in the wild in 1984 and was brought to the U.S. in 1986. She was bought by the Knoxville Zoo in 2002.

Another zoo worker said Edie knocked him to the ground in December 2007, held him down with her tusk and started pushing him into the beams of a stall, but then suddenly stopped. He was treated at a hospital.

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