October 25, 2014

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Zoo train hits kangaroo

Animal put down after accident at Australian Adventure

CLEVELAND — A 1-year-old female kangaroo was euthanized after she was hit by a train at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
The kangaroo reportedly was lying on the tracks of the zoo’s Australian Adventure exhibit when a train carrying several passengers struck the animal about noon Tuesday, according to Tom O’Konowitz, zoo spokesman.
“Initial reports indicated that it had a broken leg and lacerations in various places,” he said. “The animal was transported very quickly to the zoo’s animal hospital, but its injuries were too severe.”
The kangaroo was put down by the zoo’s veterinary care staff at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
O’Konowitz said the train was traveling between 2 and 3 mph when the kangaroo was hit. He was unsure why the animal was on the tracks.
The driver of the train, a man in his 20s, told zoo officials he didn’t see the kangaroo, and he was fired. He had been on the job since March and had received 20 hours of vehicle training, O’Konowitz said.
The kangaroo was a red kangaroo born at the zoo in June 2006. It weighed 25 pounds and was a couple of feet tall, O’Konowitz said.
The Australian Adventure exhibit opened in 2000 and has between 20 and 30 kangaroos and wallabies running throughout the three acres.
Although there have been four incidents in the past where the train has come in contact with animals in the exhibit, the incident Tuesday was the first in which an animal was killed.
In an incident in May, the tip of a kangaroo’s tail was clipped off by the train, zoo officials said.
O’Konowitz said the zoo instituted new safety precautions last summer, including placing large rocks and logs near the track and animal feeders away from it to deter the animals.
But more will be done now — with new fencing being ordered, which is expected to arrive Friday. The train will remain out of operation until the fencing is erected around the track.
“As much as we try to avoid human error, there’s always the possibility,” said zoo Director Steve Taylor. “In the future, this will never happen again.”
Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com. The Associated Press contributed to this story.