|Statement from Knoxville Zoo on Loss of Elephant Keeper Stephanie James
|January 18, 2011 -
Knoxville Zoo expresses its deepest sympathy to Ron and Kris James for the devastating loss of
their daughter, Stephanie James. This is a very difficult day for all friends and colleagues of Stephanie, who was a
respected and admired member of the Knoxville Zoo family.
A fund has been established for the James family at Clayton Bank and Trust, The Stephanie James Memorial Fund.
Clayton Bank and Trust and the Clayton Family Foundation have made an initial contribution of $2,500 to the fund.
Contribution can be made at any Clayton Bank and Trust branch.
Stephanie James, a member of Knoxville Zoo's elephant keeper staff, was fatally injured in an incident on Friday
afternoon, January 14, 2011.
Edie, the African elephant involved in the incident, will not be punished or disciplined for the incident; Knoxville
Zoo's training program is based solely on positive reinforcement. The zoo is committed to continuing to provide
the highest standard of care for the animals entrusted to our stewardship.
All three of the zoo's African elephants will be managed in protected contact while a review is underway. Protected
contact involves handling of an elephant through a protective barrier. The elephant is not spatially confined and free
to leave the area at will. Prior to the incident, the zoo's two female elephants were managed by free contact, which
is direct handling of an elephant when a keeper and an elephant share the same unrestricted space.
As part of the on-going review, the zoo is in contact with The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary
Medicine, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Association (TWRA). The zoo is currently assembling an independent panel to
review the incident and the zoo's elephant procedures.
Knoxville Zoo has a chaplain on grounds for grief counseling for all staff members today and continues to be in
regular contact with the James family.
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