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One Month After Tragedy, Dickerson Park Zoo Pushes Forward

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --One month after two deaths, workers push forward at Dickerson Park Zoo. One of the two deaths was a veteran zookeeper, killed in an accident involving one of the elephants. The other involved a different elephant, the matriarch of the zoo elephant herd was euthanized because of failing health.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --One month after two deaths, workers push forward at Dickerson Park Zoo.

One of the two deaths was a veteran zookeeper, killed in an accident involving one of the elephants.

The other involved a different elephant, the matriarch of the zoo elephant herd was euthanized because of failing health.

After the losses, zookeepers and directors are working to bring balance back into the elephant program.

That has meant working through a hard time to look at the future.

"As far as the future, that's one of those things that will take a long time to figure out," says Dickerson Park Zoo Director Mike Crocker.

Crocker says they are moving slowly and deliberately after the death of two beloved figures at the zoo.

Elephant Matriarch Connie was euthanized just before John Bradford died in a tragic accident with another elephant name Patience.

"We lost the matriarch exactly one week before John died,” says Crocker. “So that upsets the dynamics in the group. So, at the time the accident happened they were monitoring for that and had been seeing some behavior different than normal and we kind of expected things would be different."

Crocker says the zookeepers have been leaning on each other.

"I think everybody is doing pretty well at this point,” says Crocker. “We kind of keep check on each other just make sure we are all doing okay. Kind of team up when we work some of the dangerous animal areas, just as an extra safety precaution, but I think everybody is dealing with it pretty well at this point."

After the death of Connie, also known as Pinky, the zoo had to make some logistical moves.

"Right now the two females are not getting along very well together so we're trying to keep them separated," says Crocker. "What we're doing with the elephants right now, trying to keep them socialized with each other. We have two females and two males. We put the females over with the males for part of the day and try to have one of the females on exhibit in the afternoon."

Though Dickerson Park Zoo was the first program to successfully birth an elephant calf from artificial insemination, Crocker says they have not used the procedure in years.

Crocker says right now they are working through the animal species survival plan, like they do for all of their animals to chart the course for the future of the program.

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