Denver Zoo visitor bitten by rhino during zoo's rhino encounter program
Last Updated: 102 days ago
DENVER - A Denver Zoo visitor was bitten by a rhino during the feeding portion of the "rhino encounter" program on Wednesday, the Denver Zoo said.
The woman was bitten on the finger by Mshindi, a black rhinoceros, around 12:30 p.m. and was transported to the hospital by ambulance.
"This is a terrible accident. We feel horrible for the woman involved," said Denver Zoo Vice President for Animal Care Brian Aucone in a news release. "Mshindi is a gentle animal. We believe this was an accident and that he was not trying to hurt anyone."
Mshindi has been removed from his exhibit and the zoo's rhino encounter program has been suspended indefinitely pending full review of its procedures.
"Mshindi has been hand fed safely thousands of times at Denver Zoo. Mshindi's primary keeper with more than 20 years experience was supervising the program. We are reviewing all the protocols related to the program thoroughly to ensure this never happens again," Aucone said.
The zoo began offering rhino experiences for purchase earlier this year, a feature that has been safely conducted at other zoos for years. The rhino encounter is held in a demonstration area that although visible to the public, is not accessible to the public.
Denver Zoo said it will submit a full report on the incident to its accrediting agency, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as part of its accreditation requirements.
Black rhinos are critically endangered. Black rhinoceroses are found only in scattered pockets of Africa from the Cape to Somalia.
Mshindi was born at Denver Zoo on Nov. 13, 1993. Rhinos are herbivores and Mshindi’s diet consists of hay, fruits, vegetables and grains.
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