Zookeeper killed by elephant had sanctuary plans

Apr 26, 2012, 8:14 AM

Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – A New Zealand zookeeper killed by an African elephant had been trying to get the lonely pachyderm into an animal sanctuary because she knew it would be better off there, people who knew her said Thursday.

Mila the elephant _ known as Jumbo over three decades as a circus animal _ had lived at the Franklin Zoo near Auckland for four years as a stopgap measure until it could be relocated to a home where it could live with other African elephants. Zookeeper Helen Schofield, who owned the zoo and lived on the grounds, had hoped to soon place Mila in a sanctuary in California and had recently trained it to prepare for a long trip in a crate.

Police said the elephant killed Schofield on Wednesday. Bob Kerridge, president of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said several people familiar with the incident told him the elephant crushed Schofield when it picked her up in its trunk and lifted her from the ground. He said the elephant may have been startled, and actually may have been trying to defend Schofield when she died.

“It’s devastating,” Kerridge said. “She was a very professional person and a very caring person.”

The zoo paid tribute to Schofield on its website Thursday, saying she was “incredibly passionate about the welfare of animals.”

Kerridge said Schofield, a veterinarian, ran the Franklin Zoo on a shoestring budget with just a few staff members, and her death had left the zoo in “turmoil” and placed its future in doubt. Representatives from the Auckland Zoo stepped in Thursday to care for Mila, he said.

Hans Kriek, the executive director of Save Animals from Exploitation, said he had campaigned for more than 20 years to have the 39-year-old elephant released from the circus. He claimed the elephant was “psychologically damaged” after years spent shackled and confined to small spaces while traveling with the circus, but that it had gained weight and seemed to be in better spirits lately.

Mila was the only elephant at the zoo, which built a new enclosure for it in 2010.

Kriek said Schofield realized that elephants are sociable and hoped to soon place Mila at a sanctuary run by the Performing Animal Welfare Society. The group operates three California sanctuaries and cares for several African elephants. The group’s founder, Pat Derby, could not be reached Thursday.

Kriek said Schofield had called him Tuesday, the day before her death.

“She was very enthusiastic and excited. She said the training had gone well, and Mila was ready to be transported overseas,” Kriek said. “Helen had been crate-training her: Teaching her to walk into a crate without fear so that she’d be comfortable traveling.”

African elephants are the world’s largest land creatures. According to the National Geographic magazine, they can live for up to 70 years, tend to sleep very little, and eat up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of food every day.

___

Follow Nick Perry on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/nickgbperry

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

Ukrainian servicemen carry the coffin with the remains of Army Col. Oleksander Makhachek during a f...
Associated Press

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?

ZHYTOMYR (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long. Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and […]
1 month ago
(Instagram photo/@Clayton.Wolfe)...
Wills Rice

Arizona realtor announces new listing on ‘the top-floor’ of Mount Everest

Arizona realtor Clayton Wolfe scaled the treacherous 29,035-foot heights of Mount Everest in Nepal and announced a new listing at the summit.
1 month ago
(Photo by: Jonathan Wiggs/Boston Globe/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star ‘Doc’ Antle arrested for money laundering charges

“Tiger King” star “Doc” Antle was arrested by the FBI and expected to appear in court Monday to face federal money laundering charges.
1 month ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
Associated Press

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in Israel for talks with political and business leaders

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders of the Middle Eastern country.
1 month ago
A man rides a bicycle in front of a building ruined by shelling in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of ...
Associated Press

Russia takes steps to bolster army, tighten grip on Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an order Wednesday to fast track Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely held by his forces, while lawmakers in Moscow passed a bill to strengthen the stretched Russian army. Putin’s decree applying to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions could allow Russia to […]
1 month ago
FILE - McDonald's restaurant is seen in the center of Dmitrov, a Russian town 75 km., (47 miles) no...
Associated Press

De-Arching: McDonald’s to sell Russia business, exit country

McDonald’s is closing its doors in Russia, ending an era of optimism and increasing the country’s isolation over its war in Ukraine. The Chicago burger giant confirmed Monday that it is selling its 850 restaurants in Russia. McDonald’s said it will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue […]
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Zookeeper killed by elephant had sanctuary plans