FARMINGTON — Newspapers and television stations around the world weren’t quite right when they said a Wildebeest gored its keeper at the Lagoon amusement park on August 18, said park spokesman Adam Leishman.
Instead, Willie the Wildebeast is gentle creature, Leishman said.
“We find ‘goring’ unusual – it really is playful and caring,” he said. “We hesitated to even name the animal initially because he really is friendly and playful,” Leishman said.
The park’s management doesn’t know exactly what had happened, but Leishman confirmed that on the day in question, the zookeeper that has raised Willie since his bottle-feeding days was rushed to the hospital with lacerations. She was hospitalized overnight, but her main concern was that the wildebeest was OK, Leishman said.
Officials with the Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration investigated over two days, but the park wasn’t cited, Leishman said.
The park has been cited multiple times over recent decades for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, according to USDA records. However, Leishman said that in his 25 years with Lagoon, this is the first time he remembers a zookeeper injury.
Lagoon has between 60 and 85 exotic animal on its grounds. The wildebeest’s pen, like the other pens, is made of concrete, said Leishman. That makes it easier to keep clean.
Lagoon reviewed its internal policies after the zookeeper was hurt but isn’t planning to make changes.
“We have an excellent safety record,” Leishman said.