On January 1st, 2018, a young family visited the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida.
During their visit, they purchased tickets to the zoo’s Rhino Encounter. The Rhino Encounter is a hands-on experienced that allows visitors to see rhinos. The exhibit is limited to paying guests who are aged 3 years old and up.
According to the website, the exhibit requires an additional fee once inside the Brevard Zoo. Once entered, visitors are allowed to see and touch rhinos at eye-level. During the twenty-minute exhibits, guests are supervised by zookeepers as they touch and feed white rhinoceros. Guests are only separated from the rhinos by spaced out steel poles.
On January 1st, a young family (whose names have been kept private) entered the rhino exhibit with their daughter who was under the age limit. According to the Brevard Zoo’s press release on the matter, the girl and her father were standing against the rhino exhibit. As the little girl was being held by her father, she fell backward into the enclosed rhino area.
The press release does not share how long the little girl was stuck behind the enclosure, although it does state that she was met by one of the 4,000 lb rhinos. The press release shares that the child made contact with the rhinoceros’ snout, although it does not say that there was any severity to the encounter.
After being pulled from the exhibit, the little girl and her family were transported to a hospital in Orlando where the child was treated for arm pain and a scratch on her face. The father of the child made a statement sharing that the experience made for a “trying day for his family.”
One guest shared an image from the scene. On the rhinoceros side of the enclosure, you can see a small white shoe where the little girl landed.
Please keep the family in your prayers are they are likely traumatized by the event. While the little girl is said to be recovering, the act of seeing your toddler child fall into an exhibit with multiple animals weighing over 4,000 would be very scary. We hope she is okay!