Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.
Aldrich Law Firm, Ltd.

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Orangutan bites and detaches thumb of Toledo Zoo volunteer

Zoos are not the safest places, especially for the staff. Nevada residents may remember how in December 2018, a 22-year-old intern was killed by a lion at a zoo in North Carolina. This time, at the Toledo Zoo, an incident arose with an orangutan although the injuries were non-life-threatening.

In mid-January, a zoo volunteer, together with two paid staff members, entered the area where the orangutans were feeding. A 14-year-old male orangutan reached out of the mesh enclosure, bit the volunteer’s hand and detached her thumb. The volunteer was sent to the hospital for treatment.

The feeding area is inaccessible to visitors, so the incident posed no danger to the public. The encounter lasted all but a few seconds according to zoo officials. Officials say that they will be conducting an internal review, but they stress how the orangutans are not to blame.: The staff members should have been aware of the orangutans’ habit of reaching out and grabbing things and should have acted in accord with that knowledge.

The orangutans remain on exhibit at the zoo. There has been no change in their daily schedule and daily care. The zoo has thanked all those who expressed concern both for the victim and for the orangutan.

Zoo visitors who are injured by an animal may be eligible for financial compensation under premises liability law. This compensation might cover medical bills, the income they lost during their physical recovery, the pain and suffering they incurred and more. A lawyer may evaluate the case and hire investigators and other third parties to gather evidence of the property owner’s negligence. Victims may leave settlement negotiations to their lawyer and consider litigation if these fail.

John P. Aldrich
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