Zookeeper hospitalized after orangutan 'nip' at ZooTampa

A ZooTampa employee is expected to be OK after being bitten by an orangutan Wednesday morning, zoo officials say.

Michelle Moser and her three-year-old daughter Haley were enjoying a morning at ZooTampa when she received a text from her sister.

"She had texted me that something had happened with an orangutan and a worker, I believe,” Moser said.

Thirty minutes before the zoo opened at 9:30, ZooTampa says a female orangutan bit a zoo-keeper who was administering daily medication and vitamins. The animal nipped the tip off the staff member’s middle finger.

"It's a little nerve-wracking because if my older ones were here and heard it, it probably would have scared them,” Moser said.

Bornean orangutans are a critically endangered species. The exhibit draws many zoo-goers every day. It even made national headlines last January when one of the females, named Dee Dee gave birth.

Eight of the Orangutans reside at the zoo. Officials would not confirm which one was involved in the incident.

Moser, who just bought annual zoo passes for her family of six, knows accidents happen.

"But what if my children had witnessed that?” she said. “It makes you a little nervous... because they would, unfortunately, remember that forever, had they seen it."

She says after hearing about zoo tragedies across the country, she takes extra precautions with her children.

"We do buddy systems, we always hold hands. we talk about it, to not go near fences, but i don't think it'd stop us from coming,” she said.

Back in 2017 when the park was known as Lowry Park Zoo, a park chimpanzee was killed by other chimps.

In 2008, a Sumatran tiger escaped from her night enclosure at the zoo and ended up being fatally shot by then-director Lex Salisbury.