OBION, Tenn. – Two Tennessee men were killed Thursday when a camel at a petting zoo got loose and attacked them, authorities said.
Bobby Matheny, 42, of Ridgely, and Tommy Gunn, 67, of Obion, were pronounced dead at the scene, according to a news release from Sheriff Karl Jackson of the Obion County Sheriff’s Office.
The camel, a featured animal at Shirley Farms in Obion in northwestern Tennessee, apparently got loose and attacked the two men, the Jackson Sun reported.
Deputies received a call at about 4:45 p.m. CST and found the two men unresponsive on the ground, the sheriff’s office said First responders attempting to render aid to the victims were threatened by the camel, who attacked a sheriff’s office vehicle, WTVF-TV reported. The animal then advanced toward deputies who were assisting in moving the victims from the area, the television station reported.
“It was at this time officers had to put the camel down for the safety of everyone on (the) scene,” the sheriff’s office said in its news release.
It is unclear how the camel got loose.
The sheriff’s office said its deputies were assisted by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Ridgely Police Department, Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Lake County Rescue Squad.
In a statement, Debbie Metzler, the PETA Foundation associate director of captive animal law enforcement, said that “injuries abound when animals are exploited for entertainment.”
“Shirley Farms has a history of failing to have employees supervise interactions with camels, among many other citations for violating federal law, so this incident is tragic yet unsurprising,” Metzler said.