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Zebra Attack At National Zoo Blamed On Human Error

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ)—Big trouble for the National Zoo.  A new report reveals human error is to blame for a zookeeper getting attacked by a zebra last month.

Christie Ileto explains how this latest revelation highlights a bigger problem happening at the national jewel.

This latest black eye is now coupled with a laundry list of other animal deaths and escapes within the  last year.

In a scathing internal report this week, we’re now learning a keeper at the National Zoo in Washington is to blame for being attacked by a 900 pound zebra last month.

“He should have known the rules, and it was human error,” said Annalisa Meyer, National Zoo spokesperson.

The report concludes the seriously injured zookeeper had years of experience but didn’t follow protocols, including not properly closing the gates from the zebra stall.

“The gates between where the zebra was and where the keeper were working were unlocked, and that is a breach of protocol,” Meyer said.

This latest revelation comes on the heels of a series of animal deaths and escapes from the national jewel, including a Dama gazelle that was apparently startled by the attack, running into a barrier  and breaking its neck.

A red river hog and a pregnant kudu also died this year, and a red panda and vulture escaped–but were recaptured.

Patrons have little sympathy.

“Probably shouldn’t have been in there, if that’s the rules,” one man said.

Zoo officials partly blame budget cuts over the last few years, saying staff is simply stretched too thin.

“This is where we look at ourselves very carefully,” a zoo employee said.

The zoo says it will review the report recommendations, which include making sure zookeepers know and practice the rules.

The injured zookeeper is out of the hospital.

The zebra was not injured and is being closely observed by the zoo staff.

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