Australian zookeeper stable after attack by elephant

Posted at 10:50 AM, Oct 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-20 10:50:15-04

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – A zookeeper was in stable condition at a Sydney hospital Saturday, a day after she was crushed by a young male elephant during a training session.

Lucy Melo, 40, is recovering in Royal North Shore Hospital — her condition apparently steady, the Taronga Zoo said in a statement.

“We’re all relieved to hear Lucy’s condition remains stable, and we’re continuing to provide support for her family and fellow keepers, while we continue our programs for the whole herd,” said zoo director Cameron Kerr.

The 2-year-old elephant — known as Pathi Harn, which means miracle in Thai — pinned Melo to a post around 11:30 a.m., according to the zoo. Two other zookeepers at a nearby stall came over, got the animal off Melo and called for an ambulance.

The Sydney zoo launched an investigation, but as of Saturday it was unclear why Pathi Harn “challenged” the zookeeper.

That young elephant and the rest of the herd are “calm and well and in the elephant paddock as usual,” according to Taronga. These pachyderms, in fact, are going about life as usual — including normal daily activities.

An Asian elephant, Pathi Harn showed no signs of his life while his mother was in labor for eight days before his birth — alive and well — at 3:27 a.m. on March 10, 2010, according to Taronga’s website. Weighing in at 116 kilograms (255 pounds) at birth, he grew to 506 kilograms by his first birthday.

The zoo’s website describes him as a “very happy calf who is always looking for attention.” “Playful and inquisitive,” Pathi Harn is often found “sparring and wrestling” with Luk Chai, a 3-year-old elephant at the zoo.