Elephant attacks and kills zookeeper in Mo.

John Bradford KOLR via Facebook

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. A longtime zookeeper in southwest Missouri was killed Friday when he was charged by an elephant, a spokeswoman for the city of Springfield said.

John Bradford, 62, died when he was attacked by an elephant inside the area at the Dickinson Park Zoo where the elephants are housed, city spokeswoman Cora Scott said.

The elephant, a 41-year-old female named Patience, had been at the zoo since 1990, according to officials for the Springfield zoo.

Bradford worked at the zoo for 30 years and had been the zoo's elephant manager for 25 years.

"It's an extremely sad time for the co-workers at the zoo and at the city," Scott said.

Several employees were with Bradford at the time because Patience had a history of being aggressive, she said.

The zoo has two female and two male elephants. Another female, named Connie, died earlier this month.

Zoo officials said they did not yet know what would happen to Patience.

The zoo opened as usual on Friday.

CBS affiliate KOLR interviewed Bradford in 2010 following the death of a trainer at Orlando's SeaWorld, who was killed by an orca. At that time, Bradford acknowledged the danger of working with large animals.

"There's an inherent risk in working at a zoo," he said. "The deal is you want to minimize those risks if the situation calls for it and an animal is in need with direct contact with keepers, we assess the situation and determine if it's an acceptable risk or not."

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