Speaking purely from a statistical perspective, there are not many people in this country who have been seriously injured on the job. Those same statistical methods show that even fewer people have been seriously injured by a wildebeest on the job. 

There are no reliable statistics on home based wildebeest induced injuries.

A zookeeper at Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington, Utah has been hospitalized after having her leg gored by a wildebeest in her care. The 28 year old employee was apparently feeding the animal at the time of the accident. Farmington Fire Chief Guido Smith, who is possibly the only person in the entire state of Utah named “Guido”, told the Associated Press that the woman received a laceration on her thigh when it came in contact with the animals horn, and was hospitalized in serious but stable condition. He confirmed the animal was properly caged in it’s pen and there was “no evidence of anything out of control” when the accident occurred. 

I cannot confirm, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics surprisingly does not publish annual wildebeest injury records, but I would speculate that this unfortunate woman is in a very special class. I would go out on a limb and predict she will probably be one of Utah’s only wildebeest injury statistics this year. However, I can confidently say Utah probably has more people injured by wildebeests in a year than it has people named “Guido”.  

Clearly the real story here might not be that this poor woman was injured in a freak wildebeest goring. No, the real story could be that Farmington, Utah has a fire chief named Guido Smith. Smith is not a surname where one would normally expect to find a “Guido” in the family, and Guido is not a first name that one would normally associate with anyone in Utah. It rather sounds like a name created by an underfunded and overworked witness protection program. That certainly does not appear to be the case here.

By all accounts Smith is a skilled and popular firefighting professional with 20 years of experience in Davis County. He became Chief of Farmington’s department in January 2011. Clearly his department is equipped to competently handle a variety of incidents, and can now add wildebeest gorings to their experience list. 

But I digress….

This accident really does show that injuries on the job can occur anywhere, at any time. We in the industry deal with many odd and unusual stories, and getting gored by a wildebeest is one that fits in the “unusual” category.

The Utah Occupational Safety and Health agency is looking into the accident, and the zoo industry there is likely bracing for stringent new wildebeest handling rules. I checked with a noted wildebeest behaviorist, Minnesota’s Goombah O’Sullivan, who suggested those rules might include a leather horn cover, to be gently slipped over the animals schnozzle region prior to the initiation of any feeding activity. According to O’Sullivan, proper protection measures will need to be employed, or the animal could be considered too dangerous to handle and have to be “whacked”.   

That would be a shame indeed. Let us hope that the worker recovers, and a proper solution can be found to keep this incident a rare one. After all, no one really wants to whack a wildebeest.

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Editors Note: Bob employed a bit of artistic license in the creation of this article. As plausible as it may sound, there is not a noted wildebeest behaviorist in Minnesota named Goombah O’Sullivan. Bob wishes to extend an apology to the entire Italian American community within the United States and related territories for any inappropriate use of the term Goombah. Please don’t whack him.

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