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Zebra Bites National Zoo Staffer (Update: And a Gazelle Died)

The zoo says a gazelle was freaked out from witnessing the bite and ran into a wall.

Not the National Zoo's zebra, but these teeth look like they could do some damage. Photograph via Shutterstock.

An animal keeper at the National Zoo went to the hospital this morning after he got a little too close to a zebra and the stripey equid chomped into him. True to form, the zoo’s first course was to notify the public that the zebra, a ten-year-old male named Gumu, is fine.

The zoo employee, though, is not so lucky. He was conscious and breathing when he was taken to the hospital, but also bleeding quite a bit, zoo spokeswoman Annalisa Meyer said. The zoo did not say from which part of the staffer’s body the zebra took a bite.

Zoo employees also need to determine what led to one of its specimens attacking an animal keeper. “It’s not normal protocol for keepers to be in with the animal,” Meyer said.

UPDATE, 11:45 AM: The wounded animal keeper wasn’t the only victim of the zebra bite. The National Zoo says a one-year-old Dama gazelle named Tony died after witnessing Gumu bite the zoo employee. “Initial necropsy reports showed evidence of fractured vertebrae which tells us he was likely spooked by the incident and ran into a barrier,” the zoo says.

Gumu has been taken off display and is being held in the zoo’s cheetah station. There are two—presumably less bite-y—zebras still on display for zoo visitors.

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  • Keiko

    RIP Tony. Zoos are wrong.

  • jk1865

    No else cracked up that the biters name is "Gum You?"

  • The DMV Lady

    Hmmmmm.... The Cheetah station.... doesn't seem like the best place to keep a zebra...

  • r_madd

    are too big to be cheetah food. Not uncommon for a Grevy's zebra (largest zebra
    species) to injure or kill a cheetah by stomping or kicking with hooves, or
    biting with the sharp canine teeth they have. Other zebra species (mountain or plains, like the one pictured above) only have
    flat plant eating teeth. Those sharp teeth are what would have caused the most damage to the keeper.

  • Waldorfian

    If someone kept me in a cage or enclosure, I would bite him too...anxiety attack and the zebra used the opportunity to vent its frustration...

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