Elephant tramples keeper to death at Shizuoka safari park

An elephant trampled its keeper to death at a zoo in Shizuoka Prefecture on Tuesday as he tried to stop the gigantic animal from attacking its new-born calf, police and reports said.

Inthavong Khamphone, who was from Laos, had watched the elephants overnight with other keepers at Fuji Safari Park after the mother gave birth on Sunday, police said.

“Khamphone entered the cage with another keeper because the mother started attacking the baby,” a local police officer said. “The mother then started attacking Khamphone.”

The 30-year-old was an elephant specialist who had been working with the creatures for around 15 years. He had come to Japan from Laos with the mother elephant in July last year, said Jiji Press and the Sankei daily citing the zoo.

Reports said the keeper had died after the two-ton elephant stood on his chest at the park, which is near Mount Fuji.