Ruth's "Incident Reports"
It was Buttonwood Park Zoo's policy to report incidents where an elephant behaved aggressively to a keeper and discipline that was meted out. Only Ruth had "incidents" each year for 12 years. These documents were referenced in the AZA re-certification behavior profiles. Zookeeper names have been redacted.
Ruth was disciplined for infractions as small as raising her head and the keeper's interpretation that she was mock charging. Discipline included hitting Ruth with the bullhook handle, making her
lie down--a symbol of dominance--and "working her" or making her do certain movements, also to show dominance until she was "released."
In 2001, Ruth's "aggression" started because she didn't want to move away from the concrete water tank where she was trying to fill up before going into the barn for 16 hours. She would not have access to water until the next morning when the keepers returned.
It isn't clear how the keeper was trying to make Ruth move out of the way while she cleaned--whether she pushed her aside or used her bullhook. But the keeper reports that Ruth swung her trunk at her, which began a fifteen minute discipline session that included hitting Ruth with a bullhook handle and making her lie down twice till she vocalized.
It ends with a notation that Ruth faced the wall in the barn when the keeper left--a sign of humiliation in an elephant.