MELBOURNE, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - A trip to the Brevard Zoo turned terrifying in a matter of seconds after a girl fell into a rhino exhibit.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Officers are investigating the incident by measuring the distance between the barrier poles at the Brevard Zoo's rhino encounter. Zoo Director Keith Winsten says the toddler fell through these poles and into the play area, coming face to face with a rhino.
Winsten says that the rhinos were startled. "Two of the female rhinos turned, we think at least making contact with her snout with the child. They pulled the child out and the child was crying and had a small abrasion on her face."
The zoo director goes on to say that the little girl's parents jumped the partition to grab their daughter. He says that within four minutes, the toddler was rushed to the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.
However, the next day, the zoo released a new statement saying that the girl did not "fall in" from an elevated public area as speculated. She entered the rhino yard during a hands-on, educational experience.
During this experience, the zoo says that participants stand on ground level and are separated from animals by steel poles. The child stumbled through the poles, at which point at least one of the rhinos touched the child with their snout. The child was retrieved in a matter of seconds and taken to a a hospital.
As far as we know, the little girl is still at Arnold Palmer being treated. Her father says that his daughter is in good care and is doing well. Her mother has already been released for a minor injury.
The rhino exhibit at the Brevard Zoo is currently suspended indefinitely until they can figure out how to prevent an incident like this from ever happening again. There are four white rhinos inside the exhibit, according to the zoo. No rhinos were not tranquilized or injured in this incident.