Wild Elephant Attacks American Tourist at Chinese Nature Reserve

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A wild elephant in southern China attacked an American tourist by tossing him with its trunk, causing the man to suffer from fractured ribs and stomach injuries, an official said Monday.

Jeremy Allen McGill, who teaches English in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, was found unconscious by a security guard around dusk Thursday at the "Wild Elephant Valley" nature reserve in the Xishuangbanna region of Yunnan province.

"It wasn't clear why he was attacked," said an official with the Xishuangbanna foreign affairs office who would give only his surname, Chen. "The elephant just used its trunk to pick the man up and then let go."

The animal had disappeared by the time McGill was found, he said.

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McGill's abdomen and lungs were "seriously injured" and he had broken ribs, Chen said. He was hospitalized and had stitches up to 15 inches long on his stomach, said Chen, who had no details on McGill's hometown.

Telephones were not answered at the hospital or at the Huazhong Agricultural University, where McGill teaches.

The state-run China Daily newspaper said three elephants were roaming 65 feet from McGill, according to Li Ling, a security guard.

Xishuangbanna is famed for its lush tropical forests and wildlife. The 915-acre "Wild Elephant Valley" reserve has at least 30 wild elephants and was named one of China's 50 most recommended destinations for foreign tourists in 2006, the China Daily said.

Chen said elephant attacks had occurred before at the reserve, mostly after the pachyderms were spooked by camera flashes or loud noises from visitors. He did not have details on injuries.

In 2006, a tourist was hurt when four elephants charged at her while she was resting at the side of the road near a nature reserve, the China Daily said.

The year before, a 67-year-old farmer was thrown 32 feet after seven wild elephants surrounded him while he was picking mushrooms in another Xishuangbanna nature reserve, the official Xinhua News Agency said. He played dead to escape further injury and the elephants eventually left.