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Girl, 2, Falls Into Rhino Enclosure at Florida Zoo

She was injured by animal's snout
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2019 2:22 AM CST
One of the zoo's four white rhinos, which can weigh up to 6,000 pounds.   (Rusty Clark/Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – A 2-year-old was injured at a Florida zoo Tuesday after its "Rhino Encounter" turned into a terrifying experience. The girl was hospitalized after slipping and falling into the rhino enclosure at the Brevard Zoo during the hands-on experience, NBC reports. Authorities say the girl was injured after coming into contact with the snout, not the horn, of one of the zoo's white rhinoceroses. "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 zoo said in a statement.

Witnesses say the girl was rescued by her father. "The dad was holding the little girl and they brought her up and took her out," Samantha Henkle tells NBC. "She was crying, she looked frightened." Zoo officials say this is the first such incident since it began offering the experience in 2009. The zoo says children under 3 are not supposed to take part unless they are being held by a parent or guardian. The girl's father said in a statement that she is "doing well" in the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. "Today has been a trying day for our family," he said. The zoo says the rhino involved will not be punished in any way, WKMG reports. (On Sunday, an escaped lion killed an intern at a North Carolina zoo.)

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