Trainer seriously injured after elephant attack in Ontario African Lion Safari


An African Lion Safari trainer suffered serious injuries after police said he was attacked by an elephant.

Emergency officials were called to the drive-through wildlife park in rural Hamilton, about 30 miles from downtown on Friday afternoon.

Hamilton police tweeted about the attack shortly before 3:40 pm, saying a patient was taken by helicopter to the hospital. The Ministry of Labor says that an investigator is assigned to the case.

Police spokesman Jackie Penman said details of the elephant involved and what led to the incident would have to come from the ministry and the park.

"This is not a typical call," she added.

An air ambulance spokesman, Ornge, said the London helicopter had transported a 30-year-old man to Hamilton General Hospital with serious injuries.

Large flock of elephants

Park general manager Trish Gerth provided the CBC News with a statement shortly before 4:30 p.m.

"The African Lion Safari can confirm that we had an incident this afternoon involving one of our elephants and an employee who was transported to Hamilton General," she wrote.

"At the moment, we do not have more details to share as we actively collect information."

A man in his 30s was taken by helicopter to Hamilton General Hospital with serious injuries. (Pascal Marchand / CBC)

The 750-acre park is home to a herd of 16 Asian elephants, the largest herd in any North American zoological facility, according to its website.

Online, African Lion Safari unveils its work on conservation and breeding of wild animals and lists its herd of elephants as one of its main attractions.

The site says the park has been involved in important research on Asian elephants and has participated in the creation of 30 species considered endangered and 20 species considered endangered.

This is not the first time an elephant has injured a person in the park.

In 1989, Omar Norton, 21, was killed in the park.

Norton, a natural science student at McMaster University, was trying to stop two elephants from fighting in an outdoor enclosure. Norton turned his back to the elephants to pick up an elephant hook, which is a long stick with a hook at the end. An elephant turned its head, knocked Norton to the ground, and laid his head on it as he lay. The weight crushed him.

The park said that the elephant never showed aggression to the staff.


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