A 2-year-old child was rushed to a hospital after slipping and falling into a rhino exhibit Tuesday at a Florida zoo. The injury occurred after the toddler came into contact with one of the animal’s snouts, zoo officials said. The child was taken to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, and the child’s mother was taken to Orlando Regional medical center with “non-critical injuries” to her arm. The incident happened at the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne during a hands-on, educational experience called “Rhino Encounter,” according to a statement from zoo spokesperson Elliot Zirulnik. Each session is open to guests ages 3 and up, and is led by a zookeeper, lasting about 20 minutes.
The zoo has hosted the Rhino Encounter since 2009, and in a statement said: “during the encounter, participants and the rhinoceroses are separated by a series of steel poles. According to witnesses, the child stumbled and fell in between two of the poles and at this point, the snout of at least one of rhinoceroses made contact with the child.”
The executive director of the zoo, Keith Winsten, said in a statement that it would be suspended until they have “thoroughly reviewed our processes and procedures to ensure this cannot happen again. Our number one concern is the safety and welfare of our guests and our hearts go out to the family.”