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The BBC's Rupert Carey
Suddenly and with out warning it went berserk"
 real 56k

The BBC's Geraldine Carroll in Thailand
"Questions about the security of millions of tourists"
 real 28k

Dr Ian Corness
"Helen and her father are both here at the Bankok Pattaya hospital"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Father tells of elephant tragedy
Performing elephants
Elephants performing moments before the attack
The father and sister of a British tourist savaged by an out of control performing elephant are said to be "bearing up physically and emotionally" after the attack.

At Bangkok Pattaya Hospital in Thailand, Dr Ian Corness said he had "the onerous task" of breaking the news to 23-year-old Helen Taylor that her sister Andrea was dead.

"When people are told of news like this it obviously produces great grief. But Helen took the news very calmly and with great personal fortitude," said Dr Corness.

Trainee nurse Andrea Taylor, 20, from Billinge near Wigan, Greater Manchester, was attacked during a show at the private-run Suan Nong Nuch park in Pattaya, south-east of Bangkok.

Her sister Helen suffered serious internal injuries and her father, Geoffrey, 53, was also hurt as they tried to rescue her.

Dr Corness said Helen Taylor had had an ovary removed and Mr Taylor was treated for a soft tissue injury and minor fibula fracture.

Their conditions are said to be stable, but Miss Taylor remains intensive care.

Mr Taylor, a retired glass worker, described to newspapers how the family were holding bananas out to the performing elephant when it turned on its handler and then charged into the audience.

He told the Sun newspaper how he and his daughter Andrea were crushed under the animal while it continued to gore them with its tusks.

His daughter Andrea suffered a large wound in her abdomen.

She was said to be still alive during the 20 minute journey to the hospital, but died on the operating table.

The horrific incident was captured on home video by horrified fellow tourists.

It showed the elephant going berserk during a regular show.

The family holiday is the first they had taken since the girls' mother died four years ago.

Helen's housemate in St Helens, Michelle Barrow, 26, said the sisters had become very close, since their mother's death.

Enraged elephant

"Andrea was looking forward to going on holiday the most. She had never been to Thailand before."

Andrea, who was training to be a nurse in Huddersfield, was preparing to take her exams and her ambition was to work as a nurse in Canada.

In the attack, the elephant grabbed a mahout, or handler, from the back of another beast using his trunk and threw him to the ground.

The enraged animal then turned on the tourists, charging the crowd and swinging its tusks.
Geoff Taylor
Geoff Taylor was injured by the elephant

It knocked Miss Taylor to the ground as staff at the park tried to beat it off.

The elephant was recaptured and tranquillised.

There are reports in Thailand that the owner of the private resort where the elephant was on show has been charged with recklessness leading to death and injury.

But a Pattaya tourist police spokesman would only confirm that officers were investigating whether the park had been negligent.

A spokesman said: "No-one has been charged yet, but we have been informed it is possible that the elephant handlers involved could be arrested for questioning soon."

Police said a puma attacked a Russian tourist at the same park last month.

The woman tourist was paid 150,000 baht ($4,000) compensation for an arm wound.

Hormones

Elephants are relatively gentle creatures but can be transformed by their hormones.

Experts say the bull elephant that killed Andrea Taylor was almost certainly in its mating season.

Bulls get a huge boost in testosterone, according to Dr Keith Eltringham, a retired zoologist at Cambridge University.

"It means they become extremely aggressive towards other elephants - and towards people," he said.

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See also:

25 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Lives of neglect and misery
14 Feb 00 | Africa
Elephants kill endangered rhino
21 Oct 99 | South Asia
Drunken elephants trample village
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