Zookeeper killed by elephant had sanctuary plans

A New Zealand zookeeper killed by an African elephant had been trying to get the lonely pachyderm into an animal sanctuary because she knew it would be better off there, people who knew her say.

Mila the elephant — known as Jumbo over three decades as a circus animal — had lived at the Franklin Zoo near Auckland for four years. Zookeeper Helen Schofield had hoped to soon place Mila in a sanctuary in California where it could be with other elephants and had recently trained it to prepare for a long trip in a crate.

Police said the elephant killed Schofield on Wednesday. A New Zealand animal-welfare group leader says the elephant may have been startled and may have been trying to defend the zookeeper.

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