A zookeeper at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Florida had to be hospitalized Tuesday morning after she was struck by a rhinoceros’ horn during what was described as a routine training session with the animal.
Officials said the unidentified zookeeper was injured after making contact with Archie, a 50-year-old male Southern white rhino, according to local station WJAX TV.
The injuries happened while Archie was being trained to do things that would make it easier for zookeepers to examine him, Tony Vecchio, the zoo’s executive director, told local radio station WKOV.
“We teach them to open their mouths, so we can do dental exams. We teach them to lift up their feet, so we can examine how their hooves are doing, or their feet, foot pads,” Vecchio said. “We also train them to allow us to take blood. So the training is pretty hands-on, although there’s always a safety barrier between the keeper and the animal. There is a lot of contact involved.”
A zoo spokeswoman told local station WJXT TV that the keeper was alert and able to speak when she was taken to a hospital. Firefighters told the station the injury was listed as a trauma alert.
The rhino weighs about 4,000 pounds and has previously tried to escape the zoo twice. The most recent attempt was in 2010, according to First Coast News.T
he Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating to see what happened and how to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The zoo was not put on lockdown and Archie is still on display, according to local radio station WOKV.