Elephant Critically Injures Female Zookeeper, Lucy Melo, in Sydney

| by Denise A Justin

A three-ton baby elephant, known as “Mr. Shuffles” or Pathi Harn, crushed 40-year-old female zookeeper, Lucy Melo, at the Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney, Australia, on Friday, October 19, reports ABC News.

Melo is a nine-year-veteran zookeeper at the park. Taronga Zoo officials said the 2 1/2-year-old male calf was engaged a routine daily training session with the zookeeper when the elephant crushed her against a post in the zoo enclosure. Two other zookeepers heard Melo's cries for help and quickly rushed to push the elephant away.

It is not known why the elephant challenged the veteran zoo keeper, officials said. .“The elephant pinned her up against one of the fence poles…and [colleagues] came in, moved the elephant away and called the ambulance immediately,” said zoo director Cameron Kerr.

Melo was able to speak briefly after paramedics arrived and told them what happened, but her heart quickly stopped beating and she went into cardiac arrest, Ambulance Service of NSW acting inspector Andrew Wood, advised reporters.

Two ambulance teams worked for five minutes to restart her heart, Wood said. It is unusual for a person’s heart to be stopped for so long and crews continued to provide her lungs with oxygen. He added, "She has pretty serious injuries."

The elephant calf was officially named Pathi Harn, meaning `miracle,” when he was born at the zoo in March 2010, according to The Manley Daily. Pathi Harn was pronounced dead after he was stuck in his mother's womb, only to be born the next day.

He was nicknamed "Mr. Shuffles" because he dragged his feet as he tried to walk.

The zoo has eight elephants, some of which have been rehabilitated from work camps in Thailand, according to UPI.

On Saturday, "Mr. Shuffles" and the elephant herd were described as calm and well, zoo officials stated.