Zebra injures worker, gazelle dies at zoo
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.”