Georgia residents who frequent zoos or work at one know that injuries can result through contact with animals. In December 2018, an intern at a North Carolina zoo was killed by a lion that left its enclosure. On January 26, a Toledo Zoo volunteer was seriously injured when a 14-year-old male orangutan grabbed her hand through a mesh enclosure, detaching her thumb in the process.
Two paid staff members were present with the volunteer in an area in which the orangutans were eating, which is not accessible to visitors. The incident was over in a matter of seconds, and there was no danger to the public. The volunteer went to the hospital for treatment, and the injury was deemed to be not life-threatening.
An internal review of the situation remains to be made, but it appears that the zoo had followed all safety protocols. The orangutan did not leave its enclosure at any point.
Officials stress that the orangutan is not at fault and that the staff already knew, or should have known, that the apes have a habit of reaching out and grabbing things. The orangutans remain at the zoo with no changes to their daily care and schedules.
In cases like this, it can be hard to determine if the victim is eligible for any financial compensation. As mentioned above, a zoo worker should already know what orangutans are like and act accordingly. However, if someone is injured on unsafe premises, and the danger was one that the property owner could have warned about or prevented, a premises liability claim is possible.
A lawyer could assist in such a case by hiring investigators to gather evidence of negligence on the property owner’s part. Victims can have their attorneys negotiate for reasonable out-of-court settlements.
Source: Fox News, “Orangutan bites volunteer at Ohio zoo during encounter, detaches thumb,” Travis Fedschun, January 23, 2019