WINSTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Lucas Eibel was a Wildlife Safari junior zookeeper “who really stood out” to the officials at the program in Winston, Oregon.
He was “very, very mature for his age,” education director Leila Goulet told KOIN 6 News. “He was an amazing kid.”
Eibel — who was also a quadruplet — was one of 9 people killed in the horrific attack at Umpqua Community College on October 1. He was 18.
Goulet said he was in their 3-month junior zookeeper program and got to work directly with the animals.
“He’d help in our petting zoo area, and he would take animals out to the public area and teach the public about them,” she said.
“We actually let him walk our badger regularly because he was very good at it,” she said. “I think that was one of his favorite animals was our Bandit the Badger.”
She saw the news about his death on Facebook when his sister posted.
“It was shocking because you don’t expect something like that to hit you so personally,” Goulet said. “You hear of shootings on other sides of the country but this one was so close to home, especially having a kid that was in our program.
“It was just devastating.”
The Eibel family is a tight knit group, she said, who are handling Lucas’ tragic death as best they can.
“It’s not easy,” she said.
She and others from Wildlife Safari are planning to go to his funeral on Saturday “and celebrate his life and talk about all the good things he contributed.”
Wildlife Safari set up a memorial fund to honor his memory. And they may honor him beyond that.
“We are talking about naming a baby animal after him. That’s what his mom asked us. ‘Are there any births coming up?’ So we’re going to look at that and see what animal would fit him best.”
They may also set up a memorial plaque in the village area so visitors can see his name every day when they pass by.
“We were very lucky to have him with us here at Wildlife Safari,” Goulet said.
1 p.m., Saturday, October 10
Church on the Rise, 3500 NE Diamond Lake Boulevard, Roseburg
Pastor Scott Eastburn will officiate