Camel kills two men after escaping from the Tennessee Children’s Zoo | Tennessee

A camel killed two men after escaping from a petting zoo in Tennessee, a county sheriff has said.

Officials from the Obion County Sheriff’s Office said the fatal incident unfolded around 5:44 p.m. Thursday when they “received a call from a camel on the loose near Shirley Farms on South Bluff Road in Obion … attacking people”.

When deputies arrived at the farm, about 100 miles from Memphis, they found “two unconscious victims on the ground” and “a camel still at large”.

The Sheriff’s Department and other public safety agencies, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Lake County Sheriff‘s Office, Lake County Rescue Team and Ridgely Police, attempted to assist the victims and bring them to a safe place.

The animal remained aggressive. Obion authorities said “the camel attacked the Obion County Sheriff’s Office vehicle and then moved[d] to deputies attempting to move a victim to “emergency medical services”.

“That’s when the officers had to put the camel down for the safety of everyone at the scene.”

The statement said the two victims, identified as Bobby Matheny and Tommy Gunn, “succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors had noted alleged animal care and regulatory issues at the petting zoo.

In July 2019, an inspector said: “The only access to drinking water for the camels and zebras was a very small shallow muddy stream that ran through their enclosure. There was no access to drinking troughs or other sources of drinking water.

In October 2018, an inspector said: “The public (adults and children) were petting and feeding the animals without any staff/attendants present.

The inspector also said: “There is a barrier between the public and non-human primates, but not for any of the other species present, including a zebra, camels, llamas, alpacas, goats, sheep, pigs, fallow deer, kangaroos, zebus, rabbits, guinea pigs and prairie dogs.

“The only noted attendant present at the show was the cashier who does not have a direct line of sight to any of the animals. Preventing injury to the public and animals and ensuring appropriate human-animal interactions [and] food, an attendant must be present.

Shirley Farms could not immediately be reached for comment.


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Jennifer R. Strohm