MUSTARD, the Burmese python at the Emperor Valley Zoo, bit zookeeper Walter Bunyon yesterday while he was being fed. But contrary to media reports, Bunyon did not suffer any serious injuries. A video shared on social media showed Bunyon open the door to Mustard’s enclosure and drop a rabbit close to him. Seconds later, Mustard turned and bit Bunyon in the mid-section.
Zoological Society president Gupte Lutchmedial said a TV6 report which claimed Bunyon suffered major blood loss as a result of the bite was false. He explained that pythons have very fine teeth. Lutchmedial said there was “little penetration” when Mustard bit Bunyon. Zoo protocol requires two keepers to be present during feeding. Lutchmedial said the second keeper was able to pull Mustard off Bunyon and Mustard was safely put back in his enclosure.
In keeping with protocol, Bunyon received immediate medical treatment. This included antibiotics and a tetanus shot. Lutchmedial said Bunyon was fine and able to continue his duties. He disclosed that Bunyon was a senior zookeeper and helped raise Mustard while he was little. Lutchmedial said people forgot that these are wild animals and familiarity with a person should not be taken for granted.
He believed that Mustard’s action may have been defensive because he thought his food was being taken away. For this reason, Lutchmedial said zookeepers are regularly trained about how to deal with the animals under their care. He said a better way of feeding Mustard could have been to open the door to his enclosure slightly and pass the rabbit slowly to him. Lutchmedial said he visited the zoo after the incident. He said Mustard was carefully handled, subsequently ate the rabbit and was resting comfortably in his enclosure.
A release from the Zoological Society confirmed the authenticity of the video. The Emperor Valley Zoo sought to assure there was no danger to the public and said a full investigation was underway.
The Zoological Association of America, of which the society, has been notified and will also review the incident.
This story has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
In a release from the Zoological Society, a video shared on social media involving the zoo’s albino python was confirmed as authentic.
The incident took place earlier today while a zookeeper was feeding the python. While the door was still open, the python bit the zookeeper in the mid-section. In keeping with the protocol of always having two zookeepers present during feeding, the release said the second zookeeper intervened, pulling the python away and locking the door.
The other zookeeper then helped get medical attention for his colleague.
The Emperor Valley Zoo sought to assure there was no danger to the public and said a full investigation is underway.
The Zoological Association of America, of which the ZSTT is a member, has been notified and will also review the incident.