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Quest for Photo With Zoo Elephant Ends With Dad's Arrest

Jose Manuel Navarrete faces child cruelty charges
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2021 2:16 PM CDT

(Newser) – A father’s quest for a memorable photograph during a visit to the San Diego Zoo ended with his arrest. Jose Manuel Navarrete, 25, on Friday bypassed multiple barriers to enter a habitat for Asian and African elephants while carrying his 2-year-old daughter, the AP reports. “You hear this woman yelling, ‘Jose, stop. Jose, stop,’” witness Lori Ortale tells KSWB. “And he jumps the fence and then he goes through the elephant enclosure, and he’s got his little girl with him. Video recorded by a witness shows a trumpeting elephant charging at them. As Navarrete scurries away, he drops the child. He then picks her up and is able to get out safely.

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“We told him to get out and he turned around and he saw it, thankfully, just in time,” Jake Ortale, also a witness, tells KSWB. “He runs, throws his baby through the gate and it’s seconds from hitting him. He jumps through the gate, falls on the ground and then it roared. The baby starts crying and people were just mad at this guy." In a statement, police said: “There were no injuries to Navarrete, his daughter, or the elephant,” per CNN, which reports that Navarrete was booked into the San Diego County Jail on a child cruelty charge and was being held on $100,000 bail. (Read more child cruelty stories.)

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