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Dutch tourist attacked by javelina seeks settlement with Desert Museum

Files $400,000 claim

A javelina on display at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

A javelina on display at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

The Dutch tourist who was attacked by a javelina at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum last summer is still hurting from his injuries.

But he may no longer need to file a lawsuit against the museum to be reimbursed for his pain, suffering and hospital bills.

Discussions are under way between the Desert Museum and the tourist’s lawyer, Clague Van Slyke III, with the hope of settling out of court.

“We’re certainly going to see if we can avoid filing a lawsuit,” Van Slyke said.

Van Slyke recently filed a notice of claim for $400,000 against Pima County and the Desert Museum, giving the two entities 60 days to respond before he filed suit.

They responded.

He said the county turned the matter over to the Desert Museum because the javelina was on museum grounds when it attacked 46-year-old Rene Zegerius.

“Our lease with the county is very specific with injuries and matters that happen on the grounds,” said museum executive director Robert Edison.

The javelina was not one of those under control of the museum and it was never found.

“We agreed that this is going to be resolved without litigation,” Edison said. He said it was too early to say what the resolution may be. “We want it to go well for the visitor.”

Zegerius, the director of public health for the city of Amsterdam, was visiting the Desert Museum on June 27 with his two teenage children and his wife when he encountered a javelina.

“There’s one impression I’d like to correct about what happened,” Van Slyke said. “Some people claim he went to pet it or somehow provoked the javelina.” Van Slyke said that is not true.

Zegerius had crossed a bridge toward a rock ramada and came upon the javelina backed up against the ramada wall.

“It lunged at him immediately,” Van Slyke said. “It was a completely unprovoked attack.”

Zegerius only had time to jump between the javelina and his kids before he ended up wrestling with the beast, which ripped open his arm and leg. “I think they were both equally startled,” Van Slyke said.

Zegerius’ costs following the attack came to more than $85,000 and his injuries include permanent numbness and nerve and muscle damage, Van Slyke said.

Zegerius had to give up soccer and kickboxing because of his injuries, but he apparently is not holding a grudge.

“He has no ill will toward javelina or the Desert Museum,” Van Slyke said.

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