Hyena bites off Albuquerque zookeeper’s finger, investigation finds breach of protocol | KOB 4

Hyena bites off Albuquerque zookeeper’s finger, investigation finds breach of protocol

Nathan O'Neal
Created: March 02, 2020 10:17 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— A hyena bit off the finger of a zookeeper at the Albuquerque Biopark in a November incident after the worker violated zoo protocol, an internal investigation found.

Surveillance video of the Nov. 7 incident was obtained by the 4 Investigates team. The video shows the worker enter the hyena enclosure and repeatedly poke her fingers through the chain link fence, appearing to pet the animals.

The surveillance video shows the situation escalate almost instantly as the hyena bites down on the zookeeper’s hand and refuses to let go.

Security records obtained by the 4 Investigates team reveal the zookeeper lost her left middle finger in the incident. One security officer wrote that the “finger was eaten.”

Zoo officials said an internal investigation was conducted and found that the zookeeper violated protocol in the lead-up to the hyena attack. However, city officials insist there was no threat to other staff members or to the public.

“ABQ BioPark professionals care for almost 130 different species, including some that can be dangerous and require specialized care and safety. Despite stringent protocols, dangerous outcomes can still result any time humans are caring for wild animals,” said a statement provided by city officials.

“A thorough investigation was completed and the appropriate actions were taken. Personnel matters are privileged information therefore we cannot share more details,” said zoo spokesperson Tanya Lenti

The hyena at the center of the attack remains in its current habitat enclosure – with no change to the animal’s daily routine.


In one report taken following the incident, one security officer said when he arrived on scene “very little information was given by zoo staff.”

The officer suggested that they were “keeping it on ‘the low.’”

In response to the 4 Investigates team questions regarding the allegation, zoo officials said a Biopark staff member was trying to contain the incident to avoid creating a “panic or speculation” and to protect the zookeeper’s medical privacy.

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