A 2-year-old girl is reportedly recovering at a Florida hospital after she reportedly fell into a rhino exhibit and came into contact with at least one of the animals.
Officials for Brevard Zoo in Melbourne told WFTV that the girl “stumbled through” steel poles which separate the ground-level public space from the rhinos. The girl was reportedly rushed to the hospital Tuesday under a trauma alert status while her mother was hospitalized for an arm injury.
In a statement issued to the news station, Brevard Zoo spokesperson Elliot Zirulnik said “the snout of at least one of [the] rhinoceroses made contact with the child.”
Reports indicated that the toddler was injured while she and her parents participated in a Rhino Encounter, an intimate experience with white rhinos. WKMG reported that two zookeepers supervised the family as they touched and brushed the animals.
The outlet also noted that the distance between the steel poles is approximately 11 inches. Brevard Zoo’s website indicated that they house two male and two female southern white rhinos.
Zoo officials claimed the girl’s father was holding onto throughout the ordeal and managed to quickly pull her out of the enclosure.
Officials also confirmed that they’ve suspended their Rhino Encounters, a service they’ve offered since 2009, pending the completion of a safety review. Nevertheless, they told WFTV Wednesday that the rhinos’ safety was “never compromised” nor will they be “punished” in any manner for Tuesday’s incident.
“[Tuesday] has been a trying day for our family,” the toddler’s father said in a statement. “We’re thankful to everyone who has reached out with their concerns. Our daughter is in good care at Arnold Palmer Hospital and is doing well. My wife was also treated for her injury and has been released from the hospital. At this time, we ask for privacy as we focus on our daughter’s recovery.”
[Featured image: WKMG video screengrab]