Girl, 2, falls into rhinoceros exhibit at Florida zoo, sent to hospital

Frankie is among four rhinoceroses at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Fla., arriving in October. A girl fell into rhinoceros exhibit and was airlifted to an Orlando hospita. Photo courtesy of Brevard Zoo/Twitter

Jan. 1 (UPI) — A 2-year-old girl fell into the rhinoceros exhibit at a zoo in Melbourne, Fla., on Tuesday and was airlifted to a hospital in Orlando.

Around noon, the unidentified child was transported about 60 miles to Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital, WKMG-TV reported after coming in contact with an animal’s snout. The child’s injuries were not disclosed.

While the girl was airlifted in a trauma alert, the mother was ground transported to a different Orlando hospital for treatment, Brevard County Fire rescue posted on Twitter.

WESH-TV reported the mother hurt her arm while pulling the child out of the enclosure.

The girl’s father rescued her from the exhibit and rushed her to the front of the zoo where he was met by Brevard County Fire Rescue crews.

The child was participating in a hands-on experience with the rhinos that are led by guides.

“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 the rhinoceroses made contact with the child,” zoo spokesman Elliot Zirulnik said in an email to WKMG-TV.

The snout is below the horn near the rhino’s mouth area. They weigh around 5,000 pounds.

“Our number one concern is the safety and welfare of our guests, and our hearts go out to the family” Brevard Zoo executive director Keith Winsten said in statement. “Safety has always been of paramount importance to us and we are suspending these encounters until we have thoroughly reviewed our processes and procedures to ensure this cannot happen again.”

The exhibit is home to four southern white rhinos — two males named Frankie and Howard, and two females named Uzuri and Kibibi. Frankie, which weighs 5,300 pounds, arrived in October, according to apost by the zoo on Twitter.

The rhinos share a large yard with three zebras in the zoo’s Expedition Africa section during the day.

Expedition Africa debuted in 2003, nine years after the zoo opened, according to its website.

The zoo attracts more than 400,000 guests annually.


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