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Keywords:

  • age;
  • attack;
  • elephant;
  • gender;
  • injury;
  • keeper;
  • species;
  • visitor;
  • zoo

Injuries to people caused by elephants in zoos can be lethal. Data on incidents of injury to keepers and visitors were collated from newspaper articles, personal communications with zoo directors and keepers, and published information from the European Elephant Group. Although the data were not of consistent quality and detail across the three sources, the causes and frequency of incidents were analysed to see whether analogies could be drawn about how and why accidents occur. The greater our understanding of these factors, the more likely it is that the number of elephant-related injuries and deaths that happen in zoos can be reduced. Data are presented on a number of factors that relate to elephants, keeping staff, management practices and the circumstances surrounding known injuries and deaths.