20 Oct 2012

Injured elephant keeper now stable

6:16 pm on 20 October 2012

A Taronga Park zookeeper who was seriously injured by a young elephant on Friday is now in a stable condition in hospital.

Lucy Melo, 40, is in Royal North Shore Hospital after being pinned against a bollard on Friday morning.

Taronga Zoo says the herd, including the calf, was calm and well and in the elephant paddock as usual. Keepers were caring for the herd and continuing normal daily activities.

Ms Melo was teaching them how to wash in a routine session just after 11.30am on Friday.

AAP reports she had been part of a team that raised the animal. The elephant, aged two, weighed more than 500kg at his first birthday.

Jacqui Ley, of the Sydney Animal Behaviour Service, says he may have have been testing Ms Melo's authority - a behaviour typical of adolescent animals.

"He may have been testing her in the same way that youngsters test those in authority, pushing her to see if she got cross," Dr Ley told AAP.

"Young male animals of any species play more boisterously than females and there's commonly more challenging involved - wrestling and tests of strength."

Named Pathi Harn - the Thai word for miracle - because of his survival of a difficult birth, the elephant

was later called Mr Shuffles because his early attempts at walking resembled the shuffle of an elderly man in slippers.