Beds, Herts & Bucks

Whipsnade Zoo rhino accident: Gates 'should be pinned'

Rhino at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Five rhinos live in the enclosure where the incident happened

A zoo has been urged to make safety improvements to sliding gates after a senior keeper was injured by a rhino.

The recommendation from Central Bedfordshire Council follows an accident at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in 2014.

The incident left a senior zookeeper, in his 50s, with injuries to the chest, abdomen and pelvis.

However, the zoo said it deemed the recommendation "unnecessary", adding that no improvement measures or statutory changes had been imposed.

Image caption The zookeeper was found by other members of staff in an enclosure

The heavily redacted report did not detail exactly what happened to the zookeeper, but it revealed he was found immersed in water by colleagues.

It said the council "will not be taking the matter further" but did deem it "necessary" to "discuss concerns" with the zoo.

It said: "Additional safety mechanisms, such as the use of the pin to secure the sliding gates whilst in a closed position, should be incorporated in the risk assessment to mitigate any residual risks with animal contact."

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Five rhinos lived in the enclosure at the time of the incident

Kate John, spokeswoman for ZSL said: "We worked closely with Central Bedfordshire Council to assist with their review of the incident that occurred in 2014.

"Their investigation concluded that no further action was to be taken, and no improvement measures or statutory changes were imposed.

"The general recommendation of an additional pin mechanism in gates was reviewed and is currently deemed unnecessary, but all suggestions will be continually reviewed.

"We continually review our procedures and policies. We have reviewed and updated staff induction processes, issued a new staff handbook and have reviewed all existing training documents."

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