Zookeeper Taken to Hospital After Tai Shan Makes 'Contact' With Her

By David P. Marino-Nachison
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 19, 2008; 6:10 PM

A keeper at the National Zoo was taken to a hospital and treated for a laceration on her leg after Tai Shan, the zoo's giant panda cub, made "physical contact" with her Tuesday morning.

The keeper, who was not named in a statement e-mailed by Zoo spokesman John Gibbons on Wednesday evening, was treated and released.

Zoo managers are now investigating the incident, which occurred during what was called a routine indoor feeding.

Keepers no longer enter Tai Shan's yard for safety reasons, according to Gibbons. That has been the case since the cub weighed 70 pounds; now, four months before his third birthday, Tai Shan weighs 170 pounds.

In this instance, the statement said, a keeper had brought Tai Shan indoors to place food in the yard. The panda appears to have re-entered the yard through an unsecured door, at which point he tracked down the keeper.

The keeper radioed for help, Gibbons's statement said, and keepers distracted the panda with food so others could remove the injured keeper from the yard.

Zookeepers on Wednesday attempted to artificially inseminate Mei Xiang, Tai Shan's mother.

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