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USDA inspecting Lagoon after zookeeper's goring

USDA inspecting Lagoon after zookeeper's goring



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking into conditions at a Utah amusement park where a zookeeper was gored by a wildebeest, one of an assortment of exotic animals it keeps on display for a Safari ride.

USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said Wednesday that inspectors will look for any violations of the Animal Welfare Act that "may have contributed to this incident." She said a formal investigation has not begun.

Lagoon amusement park, 15 miles north of Salt Lake City, insists that the zookeeper's injury Sunday had nothing to do with any animal's condition.

The park says it has no information about what happened. But a fire chief told The Associated Press that paramedics found a 28-year-old zookeeper whose leg had been gored while she fed a black wildebeest, a horned grazing animal native to Africa.

The woman was sent to a Salt Lake City trauma center in serious but stable condition, Farmington Fire Chief Guido Smith said.

Lagoon officials said the zookeeper's stay in a hospital was brief and they expected her to return.

USDA inspection records show Lagoon has had some problems in recent years with dirty pens and damaged fencing. In May, it was flagged for a buildup of bird droppings at a shelter for 10 sheep.

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On July 10, 2012, it was cited for having dirt- and algae-encrusted water bowls inside an elk pen.

According to USDA reports, Lagoon has six tigers, a pair of leopards, two lions and dozens of other animals, including bison, a zebra and a red kangaroo.

The animals are on display for a Wild Kingdom train ride at the park.

The Utah Animal Rights has called for a boycott of the park, decrying conditions for the animals. Activists are keeping up the pressure at the website Lagoonsucks.com.

Lagoon is no worse than any other zoo, said John Fox, an animal cruelty investigator for the Utah Humane Society.

"We get few complaints about Lagoon except from people who don't like the idea of them having animals in captivity, or they want a San Diego-type zoo. That's not going to happen in Utah," he said.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Paul Foy

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