• 2-year-old girl 'doing well' at hospital after falling into rhino exhibit at Brevard Zoo

    By: Jason Kelly, WFTV.com


    MELBOURNE, Fla. - UPDATE 7:30 p.m. EST Jan. 1: Arnold Palmer Hospital issued a statement on behalf of the father of a 2-year-old girl who fell into a rhino exhibit at Brevard Zoo.

    “Today has been a trying day for our family. We’re thankful to everyone who has reached out with their concerns,” the statement said. “Our daughter is in good care at Arnold Palmer Hospital and is doing well. My wife was also treated for her injury and has been released from the hospital. At this time, we ask for privacy as we focus on our daughter’s recovery.”

    Original report:

    A toddler fell into the rhinoceros exhibit at the Brevard Zoo on New Year's Day, Brevard County Fire Rescue said.

    Firefighters said the girl, who is about 2 years old, was sent to a hospital under a trauma alert status. They said the child's mother was also taken to a hospital to be treated for a non-life-threatening arm injury.

    "Early this afternoon, during a Rhino Encounter, a hands-on, educational experience with Brevard Zoo’s white rhinoceroses, a young guest entered the rhinoceros yard and was injured," said Elliot Zirulnik, a zoo spokesman. "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 (the) rhinoceroses made contact with the child."


    The family was taken to a hospital by ambulance, Zirulnik said. The child's condition is unknown, he said.

    Zoo officials said the animal experience has been offered daily since 2009. They said this is the first time a visitor has been injured during the experience.

    "Our No. 1 concern is the safety and welfare of our guests and our hearts go out to the family," said Keith Winsten, the zoo’s executive director. "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."

    No other details were given.


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