Mila the African Elephant at Franklin Zoo. Photo / File
By Michael Dickison
Saturday Apr 28, 2012
A witness to the fatal accident at Franklin Zoo says the elephant was triggered to kneel down, crushing her keeper, by what appeared to be a misinterpreted circus command: "down".
"Put me down, Mila," the keeper, Dr Helen Schofield, was heard saying as she patted the elephant's head.
Mila obeyed by going down on her knees - crushing Dr Schofield.
"The elephant didn't attack the lady. The elephant was in a circus mode. It was following commands," said the zoo visitor, who did not want to be named.
He said the elephant had seemed to him to have acted as if she were performing a circus trick.
Dr Schofield, Franklin Zoo's owner and director, was killed on Anzac Day after two years' nursing the animal with the hope of getting her into an overseas sanctuary.
Authorities and animal welfare groups are now working out the future for the elephant, who was born in Africa before being taken into zoos in London and Honolulu.
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