A young child was hospitalized after falling into a rhinoceros enclosure at a Florida zoo on New Year’s Day, but is reportedly doing well.
The child, who NBC News identified as a 2-year-old girl, was participating in “a hands-on, educational experience” at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, according to a statement from the zoo. The Rhino Encounter program lets guests interact with white rhinoceroses from behind a series of steel poles — but the girl apparently stumbled and fell between two of the poles, and was injured when “the snout of at least one of the rhinoceroses made contact” with her, according to the statement.
The girl was transported to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children after the incident. Her father said in a statement released through the hospital that she is doing well.
“Yesterday was a trying day for our family. 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,” he said in the statement. “At this time, we ask for privacy as we focus on our daughter’s recovery.”
The girl’s mother, who was reportedly with her during the Rhino Encounter, was taken to an Orlando hospital for treatment, according to a tweet from Brevard County Fire Rescue. She sustained minor injuries to her arm, NBC reports, but has been released from the hospital.
“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 the zoo’s 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 zoo has offered the Rhino Encounter program since 2009, otherwise “without incident.”
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