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Published: Saturday, 7/3/2010

Elephant likely reacted instinctively, officials say


Louie, the Toledo Zoo's 7-year-old African elephant, likely reacted instinctively when he was startled by an elephant manager, knocking the trainer to the ground and breaking several ribs and his wrist, officials said Saturday.

The elephant manager, Don RedFox, remains hospitalized two days after the 4,000-pound animal injured him on Thursday.

Alan Roocroft, an elephant management consultant who has worked with the zoo's elephant program for more than eight years, said at a news conference Saturday afternoon that Louie's intent during the incident remains a point of speculation.

It's possible that the elephant reacted playfully or aggressively, but Mr. Roocroft said that mentally Louie does not have the capacity to intentionally harm Mr. RedFox. There is an unusual bond between the animal and his handler, Mr. Roocroft said.

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