A veteran worker at the Denver Zoo suffered a hand puncture today when a hippopotamus chomped down during routine dental training.
The woman keeper was bitten about 9:45 a.m. in the outdoor hippo exhibit as she and colleagues were doing desensitizing training on Mahali, a 5-year-old male, to make dental work more comfortable for the hippo.
"Mahali was doing this training where we ask him to hold his mouth open and while he holds his mouth open another keeper will tap on the teeth or do something to kind of desensitize the animal," said zoo spokeswoman Ana Bowie.
The training helps condition the animal "so he's more comfortable having hands or any dental tool in his mouth," she said.
"For unknown reasons, Mahali decided to close his mouth while one of our keepers had her left hand in his mouth," Bowie added.
It sounds like the keeper is doing okay. The hippo is totally oblivious that anything even happened.