A zoo worker with nearly two decades of experience has died after an elephant accidentally hit him with her trunk, causing him to bang his head and suffer fatal injuries at a Spanish zoo.
The tragic accident happened at the Cabarceno Natural Park zoo in the town of Cabarceno in the Spanish autonomous community of Cantabria yesterday (23 February).
It occurred while staff performed morning tasks in a part of the zoo designated to allow help move elephants around the large enclosure in an orderly fashion.
A man identified as Joaquin Gutierrez Arnaiz, 44, was in the area along with co-workers performing jobs at around 8am.
He was struck on the head by a female elephant’s trunk which caused him to hit a metal pole. The trunk strike was said to be accidental.
Gutierrez Arnaiz managed to walk away from the accident but was taken to the Marques de Valdecilla University Hospital anyway.
The 44-year-old zoo worker later died apparently as a result of the accident, but it is unclear exactly how the blow caused his death. He was reported dead at around 11.30am.
The case is being investigated by the Spanish Civil Guard and the Judicial Police who have already sent officers to the area.
The Minister of Industry, Tourism, Innovation, Transport and Commerce of the Government of Cantabria Javier Lopez Marcano said the victim was a committed professional and adored his job where he was much-loved by co-workers.
The incident was the first deadly accident at the zoo in its 30-year history. They will pay homage to Gutierrez Arnaiz today (24 February).