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Media Alert: Smithsonian's National Zoo Animal Keeper Bit by Grevy's Zebra

For Release: November 18, 2013

At approximately 8:45 a.m., a Smithsonian's National Zoo animal care staff member was bitten multiple times by a 10-year-old male Grevy's zebra named Gumu. After the incident, the keeper was conscious, alert and talking, but because he was bleeding as a result of the bites, he was sent to the hospital. The zebra was unharmed and is in an off-exhibit holding area at the Cheetah Conservation Station. Our younger male zebras, Moyo and Domo (both 5 years old) are on exhibit.

Also, a 1-year-old male Dama gazelle, named Tony, died this morning. Initial necropsy reports showed evidence of fractured vertebrae which tells us he was likely spooked by the incident and ran into a barrier.

The National Zoo follows the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' safety protocols for protected contact, which means there is always a barrier between our staff and dangerous animals, like the Grevy's zebra. We are actively investigating the incident, and we hope to have more information in the next few hours.

This arrangement is part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Grevy's zebras. The Cheetah Conservation Station serves as a holding facility for juvenile males and young stallions. This means no breeding—and no birth—takes place on site.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species lists the Grevy's zebra as endangered. The IUCN lists the Dama gazelle as critically endangered.

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To download a photo of the zebra and gazelle, visit the Zoo's Flickr page.

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