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Orangutan injures thumb of zoo volunteer

A zoo volunteer was injured on Jan. 19 in an incident with an orangutan. The story could be of interest to zoo workers in California because it shows the risks that they run in their jobs. The zoo volunteer, together with two paid staff members, entered the area where orangutans were being fed. There, a 14-year-old male orangutan reached out and bit the volunteer's hand, detaching her thumb in a matter of seconds.

The incident, which occurred at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio, did not last longer than those few seconds. No threat was posed to the public because the feeding area is inaccessible to visitors. The volunteer was taken to a hospital for treatment with non-life-threatening injuries. Zoo officials will be completing an internal review.

Officials stress the fact that the orangutan was not at fault. After all, Orangutans have a habit of sneaking their fingers through enclosures to grab for things.

None of the orangutans have been removed from the zoo. In addition, officials made no changes to their daily care and schedule. The zoo has expressed gratitude for the concern that others have shown for both the victim and the orangutan.

If the lawful entrant of a property, such as a visitor in a zoo, is injured through the negligence of the property owner or staff, then a premises liability case may be warranted. It must be shown that the other side failed to uphold the duty of care. For this, the victim will want to retain a lawyer. In turn, legal counsel could hire investigators and other professionals to gather the necessary evidence. The lawyer can then proceed to settlement negotiations or the trial.

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