The female elephant, weighing in at 4,000kg (8,800 lb) thumped the zookeeper on Wednesday morning at the Cabarceno Natural Park in Santander, according to reports from the zoo. The man was taken to the hospital but died from his injuries later that day.
“We are talking about unpredictable animals.” Javier Lopez Marcano, the Cantabria tourism minister, who owns the zoo. “the force of the strike was tremendous, of a magnitude that one could not survive.
The incident happened while the zookeepers were carrying out the usual cleaning of their enclosure and the elephant was with her calf.
Cabarceno Natural Park holds nearly 120 different species, ranging from wolves, tigers, lion and jaguars who live in large cross-species enclosures.
An investigation by the local police and the zoo has begun as it is the first casualty of its kind in the zoo’s 31-year span.
A member of staff at Madrid Zoo Aquarium faced similar attacks after being mauled by a gorilla. She survived despite head, chest and arm injuries.