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Elephant crushes Missouri zookeeper to death

The elephant, named Patience, attacked long-time zookeeper John Bradford at a Springfield zoo on Friday.

81 zimbabwe elephants poisonedEnlarge
African elephants in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. (MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

A Missouri zookeeper was killed by an elephant at a Springfield zoo on Friday, after the enormous animal lunged forward and crushed him in a narrow chute. 

Long-time zookeeper John Bradford, 62, died at the Dickerson Park Zoo after the attack. He was the elephant manager at the attraction, and had worked at the zoo for thirty years.

Read more from GlobalPost: Zookeeper crushed by elephant critical but stable

Patience, a 41-year-old female elephant, had a history of aggressive behavior and required special handling, wrote ABC15 News. Bradford had been in the enclosure with two other employees when she suddenly lunged at him. 

Patience will not be killed because of the attack, the zoo announced. She had been acting erratically ever since the October 4th death of the zoo elephant herd's matriarch, writes NBC.

Bradford acknowledged the inherent risk of his job in a 2010 interview, after a fatal killer whale attack on a trainer at Sea World. "There's an inherent risk in working at a zoo," he said to KOLR10 News.

 "The deal is you want to minimize those risks if the situation calls for it and an animal is in need with direct contact with keepers, we assess the situation and determine if it's an acceptable risk or not."

Although elephants are usually fairly good-natured creatures, zookeeper deaths after elephant encounters are not unheard of — partially due to the animal's overwhelming size. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/wildlife-news/131011/elephant-crushes-missouri-zookeeper-death