Ze­bra in­jures worker, gazelle dies at zoo

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - BY MERED­ITH SOMERS

A chaotic scene unfolded at the Na­tional Zoo on Mon­day when a ze­bra at­tack sent a blood­ied worker to the hos­pi­tal and fright­ened a gazelle so badly it gal­loped head-first into a bar­rier and broke its neck.

Zoo of­fi­cials said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the cause of the at­tack, as well as mourn­ing the loss of their 1-year-old male Dama gazelle named Tony.

“It’s a ter­ri­ble loss for us to­day,” zoo spokes­woman Pamela Baker-Mas­son said. “We’re very sad that our col­league was in­jured. We preach safety all the time. We have not had this kind of in­ci­dent in all the years we’ve man­aged Grevy’s ze­bras. Un­de­ni­ably some­thing hap­pened this morn­ing, but we don’t know what.”

The in­ci­dent hap­pened at about 8:45 a.m. when the zoo staffer was bit­ten mul­ti­ple times by Gumu, a male Grevy’s ze­bra.

Gumu, 10, was not in­jured, Ms. Baker-Mas­son said, and he was be­ing held at the Chee­tah Con­ser­va­tion Sta­tion on zoo prop­erty for fur­ther ob­ser­va­tion.

The at­tack hap­pened in an in­te­rior area of the ex­hibit not ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic, Ms. Baker-Mas­son said, and for an un­known rea­son the keeper was in the same space as the ze­bra and not sep­a­rated by a bar­rier.

The in­jured keeper has been work­ing at the zoo for more than 20 years and Gumu has been with the zoo since 2007.

A keeper work­ing in the nearby yard for the Dama gazelles heard the at­tack and came to help. The gazelles had been moved into the in­te­rior space of their ex­hibit, close to where the ze­bra at­tack oc­curred, Ms. Baker-Ma­son said.

A necropsy of the an­i­mal showed frac­tured ver­te­brae, “which tells us he was likely spooked by the in­ci­dent and ran into a bar­rier,” zoo of­fi­cials said.

Both Dama gazelles and Grevy’s ze­bras are on the en­dan­gered species list.

Il­le­gal im­mi­grants can now get a “lim­ited pur­pose” driver’s li­cense in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal.

D.C. law­mak­ers pre­dict the leg­is­la­tion will in­crease safety on the city’s road­ways as un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents will now have a means to take driver’s ed­u­ca­tion tests and reg­is­ter and in­sure their ve­hi­cles.

“We have thou­sands of peo­ple in the Dis­trict of Columbia who live among us and who need to drive, and with­out hav­ing the le­gal means to drive they tend to drive any­way,” said D.C. Coun­cil mem­ber Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Demo­crat.

The new law, signed by Mayor Vin­cent C. Gray on Mon­day, re­quires the li­censes to have “not for fed­eral pur­poses” on them — a de­mar­ca­tion that angers ac­tivists who con­sider it a scar­let let­ter. But it al­lows the Dis­trict to be in com­pli­ance with the fed­eral Real ID Act.

The fed­eral Real ID Act — set to take ef­fect across the coun­try in 2014 — will re­quire states to check that li­cense ap­pli­cants are in the coun­try legally, en­sure they have valid So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers and ver­ify the authen­tic­ity of doc­u­ments such as birth cer­tifi­cates.

Law­mak­ers sought to make the mark­ing on the li­cense as in­con­spic­u­ous as pos­si­ble, said D.C. Coun­cil Chair­man Phil Men­del­son.

“We rec­og­nize in other ju­ris­dic­tions that law en­force­ment may use the sec­ond li­cense as a form

it on the city’s web­site.

“It’s not White’s call to make on his own,” the of­fi­cial said, adding that mem­bers of the city’s Health Ben­e­fit Ex­change Au­thor­ity board will have to be con­sulted on fu­ture plans.

The of­fi­cial also re­buffed claims that city of­fi­cials felt pres­sure from fed­eral of­fi­cials to act.

“The White House did not tell us to fire this guy,” the of­fi­cial said.

The state­ment, as well as Mr. White’s bi­og­ra­phy, have both been re­moved from the city’s web­site.

The depart­ment’s deputy di­rec­tor, Chester A. McPher­son, was se­lected on Sun­day to re­place Mr. White, who was the Dis­trict’s insurance com­mis­sioner since 2011.

“It’s un­for­tu­nate to see him have to leave in this man­ner,” said D.C. Coun­cil Mem­ber Vin­cent B. Orange, who heads the com­mit­tee that over­sees the Depart­ment of Insurance, Se­cu­ri­ties and Bank­ing.

But Mr. Orange, at-large Demo­crat, added that he thought the opin­ion was one city of­fi­cials should have come to col­lec­tively.

“I think that there should have been co­or­di­na­tion, es­pe­cially when you are tak­ing on the pres­i­dent of the United States,” he said.

A spokesman for the Depart­ment of Insurance, Se­cu­ri­ties and Bank­ing de­clined to com­ment as did a spokesman for the city’s Health Ben­e­fit Ex­change Au­thor­ity.

Mr. White and Wash­ing­ton State Insurance Com­mis­sioner Mike Krei­dler were among the first reg­u­la­tors to raise con­cerns Thurs­day about the pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion to de­lay en­force­ment of the Af­ford­able Care Act’s min­i­mum cov­er­age stan­dards that re­quire in­sur­ers to cover a range of ser­vices and scrap cov­er­age that the law’s sup­port­ers viewed as sub­stan­dard.

The warn­ings came on top of con­cerns from Amer­ica’s Health Insurance Plans Pres­i­dent Karen Ig­nani, who said “chang­ing the rules af­ter health plans have al­ready met the re­quire­ments of the law could desta­bi­lize the mar­ket and re­sult in higher premi­ums for con­sumers.”

Dis­trict law­mak­ers said the city’s health ex­change has run smoothly since open­ing. D.C. Coun­cil Chair­man Phil Men­del­son framed Mr. White’s dis­missal as an un­nec­es­sary dis­trac­tion.

“What the for­mer insurance com­mis­sioner said was sim­i­lar to what has been said by other state insurance com­mis­sion­ers,” Mr. Men­del­son, a Demo­crat, said. “So it would have just blended into the back­ground with that.”

As of Wed­nes­day, the ex­change au­thor­ity re­ported that 19,706 ac­counts had been cre­ated on its web­site and 1,350 ap­pli­ca­tions for full price cov­er­age had been com­pleted.

“The city did well in set­ting up D.C. Health Link and we were one of the ones that suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented our pro­gram,” Mr. Orange said. “Now we have to see how we will work to rec­on­cile with the pres­i­dent’s new pro­nounce­ment.”


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