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Elephant Kills Handler At Sanctuary

An elephant with a reputation for being dangerous killed a handler and injured a trainer Friday at The Elephant Sanctuary in southern Tennessee, authorities said.

Winkie, a female Asian elephant, stepped on or kicked a woman handler who was killed "on the spot," said Doug Markham, a spokesman for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. A male trainer was injured when he tried to intervene.

The names of the victims were not released.

The trainer was taken to a hospital in Columbia, about 30 miles east of Hohenwald. The nature of his injuries was not available.

Winkie weighs 7,600 pounds and came from Burma more than 30 years ago, according to the sanctuary's Web site.

Winkie has not been euthanized, and it was not clear if there were any plans to do so, Markham said.

At her previous residence at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wis., Winkie hurt several staffers and visitors, earning a reputation as a "dangerous elephant," according to her biography on the site.

Opened in 1995, the nonprofit refuge on 2,700 acres about 60 miles southwest of Nashville specializes in Asian elephants. The sanctuary provides a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of pastures, forests, spring-fed ponds and a heated barn for cold winter nights, its Web site says. It also tries to educate the public about elephants.

Many of the sanctuary's elephants came from performance backgrounds. Once they arrive, they no longer are exhibited but can be seen via webcam on the sanctuary's Web site.

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