US elephant kills Dickerson Park Zoo keeper

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John Bradford and Patience the elephant
Image caption,
John Bradford died when Patience the elephant moved unexpectedly

An elephant named Patience with a history of aggression has killed a veteran keeper, a zoo in the US state of Missouri has said.

John Bradford, 62, elephant manager at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, was working with the 41-year-old female.

Patience suddenly moved, fatally injuring him, the zoo said.

She will not be put down, the zoo said. Recently, the zoo euthanised the herd's matriarch, Pinky, who had advanced kidney disease.

"This is a very sad day for the zoo family, as well as our community as a whole," Mike Crocker, director of the zoo, said in a statement.

The zoo said members of staff had kept a close watch on Patience and another female in the herd since Pinky's death.

Two other zoo employees were with Mr Bradford when he was killed, out of caution over Patience's history of aggression.

Officials cannot determine why the elephant, who had been at the zoo since 1990, moved suddenly at Mr Bradford.

"This has never happened before," Springfield city spokeswoman Cora Scott told the BBC.

"There are counsellors on hand for the park employees, as it is a pretty tight-knit family here."

Mr Bradford had worked at the zoo for 30 years, 25 as elephant manager.

The park remains open, though the elephant exhibit has been closed.