A zookeeper in Austria has died and another has been seriously injured after being attacked by a rhino, Salzburg police said on Tuesday.
The rhino attacked a 33-year-old female animal keeper while she attended to her early morning work in the animal’s enclosure at Salzburg Hellbrunn Zoo, police said in a press release. The woman, an experienced zookeeper, died at the scene of the accident, police added.
Another keeper, a 34-year-old Austrian, was also attacked by the rhino while trying to scare the animal away, police said in a press release. He was seriously injured and taken to Salzburg University Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.
“We are absolutely shocked and do not know yet how this happened,” zoo spokeswoman Ulrike Ulmann told CNN Tuesday. “Early in the morning, the rhinos are routinely creamed with an insect repellent stick. This always takes place in a protected area,” Ulmann added.
According to its website, the zoo is home to 150 species and 1,500 animals – including white rhinos. Two females, Yeti and Tamika, and two males, Tamu and Athos, currently live in the rhino compound.
White rhinos are the second-largest land mammal and they can weigh between 3,080 and 7,920 pounds, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. With fewer than 16,000 white rhinos left, their status is near-threatened.
The zoo will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to the incident, it said on its website.