On late Sunday evening, an employee of the Oland Animal and Entertainment Park in southwestern Sweden was performing their regular closing tasks. After all the visitors had left and the park was closed, they went to work herding the park’s resident eland antelopes into their stable for the night. But what began as a typical evening turned into a terrifying ordeal.
Richard Berglund, the owner of the attraction, was helping his employee with his nightly tasks when one of the antelopes unexpectedly became enraged, goring the employee to death.
Though Berglund witnessed the incident, it remains unclear what happened inside the enclosure to make the antelope feel threatened. The identity of the employee also remains concealed.
“It was a friend…we’re all grieving,” Berglund explained to reporters following the tragic event. “I myself was involved and it could not have been done in any other way. We were going to feed the animals and suddenly, it attacked. We have never had any problems with those animals before.”
According to local police, the incident is being classified as a “workplace accident”. The antelope is still at the zoo and will not be euthanized. It’s possible, however, that it will be moved to a different zoo.
As of Monday (August 29), Oland Animal and Entertainment Park is closed for the season.
The Eland is the World’s Largest Antelope
Spending time in the presence of wild animals comes with a great deal of risk, even for a highly trained individual. Even the most seemingly harmless animals can and will attack if they feel threatened.
Though they’re known for their gentle nature, antelopes are some of the most common prey in their natural habitat. As such, they’re always on high alert for potential danger. And while they aren’t territorial, they’re highly protective of their herd and calves.
There are two species of eland, the common and the giant. Both, however, are among the largest antelope species in the world. The common eland is second only to the giant. It’s not yet clear which species the deadly goring involved.
That said, even the common eland can reach heights of six feet and weigh over 2,000 pounds. They can run up to 43 MPH and typically use their speed and agility as a means of protection against predators.
They do, however, possess large spiraled horns. And though these are typically used as a last resort, they can cause serious injury and even death when an antelope chooses to charge rather than run.
Though incidents like this can be terrifying, antelopes don’t usually pose a threat to humans at all. However, it’s always important to follow the guidelines of any park or animal attraction to the letter.
While any animal encounter comes with an inherent risk, doing so with your safety in mind minimizes the potential for tragedy.