Emergency crews responded to the Toledo Zoo Thursday afternoon where a keeper was severely attacked inside the African elephant cage.
The Toledo Zoo confirms 53-year-old Don Redfox was attacked by seven-year-old Louie the elephant just before 4:00 p.m. Louie has been under the keeper's care since he was born at the zoo in 2003.
Redfox was transported to the University of Toledo Medical Center with injuries described as broken ribs, a wrist injury and abrasions. He is said to have been attending to the animal at the time of the incident. The Toledo Zoo says Redfox is the elephant facility manager and has more than 30 years of experience in working with the animals.
While the zoo says that Louie has shown no previous signs of aggression, they have been making plans for keeping him more secluded and in "protected contact" from zoo keepers.
"As bull elephants get older they do tend to at some point you start to go to protected contact with him because when they go into what's called "musk" or mating season they can become more aggressive but Louie has shown no signs of that. He's also relatively young at seven still," said Toledo Zoo Deputy Director Ron Fricke.
The zoo says they do not know what promted the attack but that while Louie will be monitored closely he will not be punished in any way.
An NBC24 viewer tells us she heard a woman scream that a trainer had just been attacked by an elephant. She ran to the area to see the trainer resting against a fence and bleeding from the face.
Zoo guests were ushered away from the area by zoo employees immediately after the attack.
The elephants are housed in the northern part of the zoo's property off of the Anthony Wayne Trail in South Toledo. The Zoo plans to keep the elephant exhibit open. Zoo spokesperson Andi Norman says the zoo is currently investigating the day's events to determine exactly how the incident occurred. She says the zoo is "working on a plan to manage the elephants through the coming days and into the future."