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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Zoo denies keeper death charges
Asian elephant
The elephant had a record of dangerous behaviour
A zoo boss has denied breaking safety laws after a keeper was killed by an elephant.

Richard Hughes, 34, of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, died nine days after being struck by cow elephant Kumara at Chester Zoo on 8 February, 2001.

Professor Gordon Reid, director of the North of England Zoological Society, which runs the zoo, denied breaching the Health and Safety Act.

He is accused of failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of staff.

Professor Reid spoke only to enter the plea at the hearing at Chester Crown Court on Monday.

The charges relate to the period from 14 February, 2000 till 8 February, 2001.

Dangerous behaviour

At a previous hearing, Iain Goldrein, for the Health and Safety Executive, said the case was based on 30-year-old Kumara's previous record of dangerous behaviour.

He said there was also a lack of written safety protocols to protect keepers.

Mr Hughes died after he was hit by the four-ton Asian elephant as he herded her into an outdoor enclosure. Kumara then charged at him and hit him with her trunk.

Mr Goldrein said Mr Hughes, of Werrington, suffered "catastrophic injuries".

He suffered brain damage and died with his girlfriend and parents by his side in hospital.

The hearing was adjourned and a trial date has not yet been fixed.

Zoo denies keeper death charges
08 Dec 03  |  Staffordshire
Keeper death zoo in court
20 Oct 03  |  Staffordshire

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