Jacksonville, FL – An animal trainer was injured earlier this year after she was struck in the stomach by the horn of a white rhinoceros during a routine training session at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
The worker was treated and released soon afterward from the hospital.
As a result of the incident, OSHA has cited the Jacksonville Zoological Society Inc. for exposing employees to workplace safety hazards. The animal park faces $14,661 in proposed penalties.
OSHA cited the zoo for failing to protect workers from recognized hazards when employees train and feed the rhinos, and for not notifying OSHA within 24 hours of the employee’s hospitalization, as required.
According to News4 JAX, before February’s rhino incident, in October, a lion got through an open door and charged an employee who had to jump in a moat to get away. And an African elephant got out of his cage, causing a code red lockdown, in June.
The zoo was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing or negligence by the state and OSHA, but the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which is the gold standard for zoos across the country and accredits those who meet its standards, began an investigation in light of the incidents.
According to the zoo’s website, southern white rhinos have been on exhibit there since the first pair arrived in April 1967. A dozen births have occurred, making the Jacksonville Zoo one of the more successful white rhino producers.
Today, those born there can be found in the United States, Germany, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia.