Elephant that attacked trainer still with herd at African Lion Safari
Park says employee has 'non-life threatening injuries'
African Lion Safari says the elephant that attacked a trainer Friday is still with its herd.
A 33-year-old worker at the drive-through wildlife park in Flamborough Ont., was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries around 2 p.m. Friday after he was "attacked" by the animal, according to Hamilton police.
Park general manager Trish Gerth issued a statement later that day confirming an incident "involving one of our elephants and an employee."
In a Facebook post from that evening, the park described the employee's injuries as non-life threatening.
The statement also said the elephant involved remains at the park with the rest of the herd.
"A full investigation into the incident is ongoing," it reads.
Ministry issued requirement to park
The Ministry of Labour is investigating. Spokesperson Janet Deline says inspectors visited the scene and issued one requirement to the park, but she declined to provide more detail, citing the ongoing investigation.
On its website the 750-acre park touts its work with conservation and breeding wildlife, including a herd of 16 Asian elephants — the largest herd in any North American zoological facility.
Following the attack, animal rights activists decried keeping animals in captivity.
"Sadly, this is another crucial reminder that elephants are wild animals and they belong in their natural environment," wrote Melissa Matlow, campaign director for World Animal Protection, in an email to CBC News. "A life in the entertainment industry is no life at all."
Matlow said elephants can be dangerous, and their behaviour can be "quite unpredictable particularly when they are stressed and frustrated in captivity and forced to perform and give rides to people."
It's not clear what caused Friday's incident. Gerth did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Worker killed at park decades ago
Friday's attack is not the first time an elephant has injured someone at the park.
In 1989, 21-year-old Omer Norton was killed while working there.
Norton, a McMaster University natural sciences student, was trying to stop two elephants from fighting in an outdoor pen. He turned his back to the elephants to get an elephant hook, which is a long pole with a hook on the end.
One elephant swung its head around, knocked Norton to the ground and leaned its head on him as he lay there. The weight crushed him.
The park said the elephant had never shown aggression toward staff.