Elephant swings its trunk and causes tragedy at Spanish zoo

Cantabria, Spain - An experienced zoo worker met a tragic end after being hit by an elephant's trunk while completing his daily duties.

The elephant enclosure at Cabárceno Natural Park is currently home to 20 elephants.
The elephant enclosure at Cabárceno Natural Park is currently home to 20 elephants.  © 123rf/ Donovan Van Staden

Tuesday, at around 8:30 AM, Joaquin Gutiérrez Arnáiz and other zoo employees were cleaning the elephant stables of Cabárceno Natural Park in Cantabria, Spain.

Arnáiz was in the corridor where the huge animals pass to get to an outdoor area when a female elephant, which was with her calf at the time, hit him with her trunk.

Arnáiz was knocked on to the bars of the enclosure.

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According to the National Park's press release, two of the 44-year-old's coworkers called for help and the zoo worker was taken to Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital, where he died hours later.

Francisco Javier López Marcano, the Minister of Industry, Tourism, Innovation, Transport and Commerce, issued a statement: "We are deeply shocked. Cabárceno loses a person very dear to his colleagues and a worker dedicated to his work as a caregiver for almost two decades."

Joaquin Gutiérrez Arnáiz started working at the park in 2002. During the last 19 years he spent a lot of time working with the elephants and was said to be one of the veterans of the animal enclosure.

This is the first fatal incident at the Cabárceno Natural Park in its whole 30-year history. The Civil Guard and the Judicial Police are looking into what caused the tragic accident.

Cover photo: 123rf/ Donovan Van Staden

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