Cape buffalo gores handler at Safari West

A wayward (and presumably ticked off) Cape buffalo gored its handler Wednesday at Safari West in Santa Rosa.

Nicole Smith, lead handler at the park, was left with a gash on her thigh. She remained at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital overnight. She had no other injuries or broken bones, according to Aphrodite Caserta, Safari West spokeswoman.

The bouvine-esque creature apparently wandered out of her enclosure when it saw a couple of “friends,” a group of Angus cattle, wander by, said Caserta:

“They see each other through the gate and like each other.”

What Ruth the Cape buffalo didn’t like was trying to be lured back into her home. The 7-year-old buffalo charged and gouged Smith’s leg with her horn as Smith tried to lure her back. Smith has been with the park since 2006, with experience in dealing with hoofed animals.

It is unclear why Ruth attacked or why the gate was open. Smith was taken care of by preserve staff members who were with her and radioed for assistance before she was taken in an ambulance.

Ruth was tranquilized and returned to her enclosure. The incident did not occur near guest areas. Safari West is known for having upward of 400 exotic animals. It hosts tours and overnight stays for guests.