Beloved rhino strikes zookeeper with horn at Florida zoo

Jacksonville zookeeper injured by rhino’s horn

JACKSONVILLE, FL (WJXT/CNN) – A Jacksonville zookeeper is recovering after a rhinoceros hit her with his horn.

The 4,000-pound rhino named “Archie” is a fan favorite at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

But around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Archie horned his zookeeper in the stomach while she was going through routine training with him.

A zoo spokeswoman said the zookeeper was hurt, but that she was alert and able to speak.

Fire rescue took her to a hospital for evaluation; she’ll stay overnight for observation.

“He’s an animal. The keepers, they know to treat every animal as if it’s potentially dangerous,” said Tony Vecchio, executive director of the zoo. “They’re not particularly friendly with Archie, but he’s a well-liked animal. He’s such a good disposition. He’s easy to train and easy to work with.”

The keepers train the rhino for medical and dental exams in the zoo barn. Vertical and horizontal bars stand between the keeper and Archie during the training.

Archie’s training is on hold for now. The zoo will work on a report to make sure everything was handled properly and see if they need to change any safety measures.

"I'm hoping they're okay. I'm hoping there's no injuries,” said zoo visitor Michelle Stewart. “Hopefully precautions are taken in the future, so things like that don't happen again. But that just proves that animals are unpredictable."

The zoo welcomed Archie when it opened his exhibit in 1975. He’s 50 year old, the third-oldest male southern white rhino in captivity.

Archie is so popular that a local brewery named an ale after him.

This isn’t the first time Archie has gotten into trouble. In 2010 he escaped his barn when a zookeeper left his gate open. It took 15 men to get him back inside.

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