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Denver Zoo fined by OSHA in wake of jaguar attack

written by: Jeffrey Wolf , Web Producer
created: 8/2/2007 3:01:34 PM
Last updated: 8/2/2007 5:54:45 PM

DENVER – The Denver Zoo was fined $4,200 on Thursday after it was delivered two citations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which began investigating after a zookeeper died during a jaguar attack.

Ashlee Pfaff, 27, was attacked and killed by a jaguar at the Denver Zoo on February 24. The cat got to her through a door that had been left open.

The animal was later put down by other zookeepers.

The zoo conducted an investigation and concluded Pfaff died from “human error.” The zoo found she opened the door to a cage while the animal was inside and did not follow established safety protocols.

In the report delivered by OSHA on Thursday, the zoo was given two citations, one of them serious.

OSHA cited the zoo for failing to “furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards in that it did not develop and/or implement work protocols for zookeepers who worked in the Feline II Building and in other areas where large carnivores were housed and exhibited.”

OSHA also said, “This exposed zookeepers and other employees to inadvertent contact with large carnivores which could cause serious harm to employees.”

This citation came with a $3,500 fine.

OSHA recommended several steps the zoo could take to prevent an accident in the future.

1. Develop a procedure for transferring animals.

2. Require two zookeepers to work together during transfers of dangerous animals. The second person should re-check all doors and locks and independently verify the location of the animals.

3. Require two locked doors between the keeper and the animal when available.

4. Clarify the lock policy and provide additional training.

5. Perform a job hazard analysis for each zookeeper position and whenever a new animal is introduced into an area.

6. Perform near-miss investigations for all incidents.

7. Evaluate the use of lockout/tagout or a similar system to make sure that when a keeper is in a particular area, no one else can open a cage or transfer an animal.

8. Modify animal enclosures to improve visibility into the area.

The zoo is required to make the necessary changes by Sept. 3.

The zoo also received a citation for not maintaining an OSHA 300 log of work place injuries and illnesses for 2004 through 2007.

The zoo can contest the citations within 15 days.

The Denver Zoo declined to comment on the OSHA report but said it was reviewing the document Thursday.

The Denver Police Department has cleared the zoo of any wrongdoing in its own investigation.

http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=74732

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