Having an accident at work can be painful and debilitating, but we have to say – going into cardiac arrest after being crushed by a two year old elephant has to be one of the most painful work accidents we have heard of recently. At the time of the ITN report, the injured zoo keeper was stable, although extremely unwell in hospital. This extremely unlucky zoo worker was crushed by a baby elephant when she washing the animal. Lucy Melo of Australia’s Taronga Zoological Park in Sydney was trapped between the elephant and a bollard. The New South Wales ambulance service attended the scene of the accident and treated the unlucky keeper who initially was conscious and explained the situation to the paramedics before she suffered a cardiac arrest and had to be helped by a second ambulance crew. The teams’ brilliant work ensured Ms Melo survived the incident and helped get her heart beating again so when she was hospitalised her heart was beating without the help of a support machine and she was breathing on her own.

Working with animals of this size is dangerous not only due to the size and weight difference between an elephant and a human but also due to the unpredictability of animal’s behaviour, however well trained they are, accidents do sometimes happen. The Chief Executive of Taronga zoo, Cameron Kerr referred to the incident as “surprising” and said they will be “reviewing the situation very carefully.” The animal – Pathi Harn – who crushed the 40 year old Ms Melo was usually a shy and anxious elephant due to his low ranking in the herd. The behaviour he exhibited on the day of the accident was extremely out of character. However, the elephant was said to have been exhibiting behaviour changes due to one of the herd being in heat for some of the days preceding the incident. When Pathi crushed Lucy against a bollard with his trunk it was thought to be a ‘challenge’ to the keeper.

To ensure the zoo was not at fault, its health and safety procedures for working with elephants were carefully look into by a local Australian firm. If any safety changes were required of the zoo these were to be recommended to them. Furthermore the zoo looked into the behaviour of the elephant to ascertain whether he was thought to be a general threat to other Taronga zoo employees. Loyalty Law wishes Ms Melo all the best and believes that she has returned to work fit and well. She was excited to return to work with the elephants once again so the unfortunate work accident did not deter her from returning to her job.

If you have been injured at work and would like advice on how to make an accident claim, contact one of our personal injury specialists today.

Author: Nicholas Jervis