A Toledo Zoo elephant trainer is still in the hospital after this attack by Louie the elephant three weeks ago. Trainer Don Redfox suffered life-threatening injuries after the elephant, who he had been with since Louie was born almost seven years ago, pinned him on the ground and attacked him.
The frightening encounter was caught on video which was released yesterday by the Toledo Zoo. What made Louie turn on his trainer? Experts at the zoo think he didn't attack to kill, but attacked in a form of play fighting, which doesn't make the scene any less scary.
Baker said the elephant could have killed Redfox at any time, and that is why she and another elephant expert who reviewed the video think that Louie was play-fighting.
"The problem is Louie weighs over 4,000 pounds," she said.
Zoo officials have not been able to talk with Redfox, who faces a long recovery, according to his doctors.
Baker praised Redfox's knowledge of elephants and wouldn't criticize his decision to go into enclosure after he first startled the elephant.
"I'm not going to speculate on that because we don't know the why," she said. "The keeper has to do a good job of reading the animal and determine what's safe."
Louie has been the face of the zoo since he was born in Toledo in April 2003, becoming just the 38th African elephant born in captivity in the United States.
Redfox is expected to recover and probably go back to playing with 4,000-pound animals.