CNN – Two rhinos rammed a toddler with their snouts after she fell into an exhibit at Florida’s Brevard Zoo, and the girl suffered a lacerated liver and bruised lung, wildlife officials said.
The 21-month-old also suffered contusions to her chest, back, abdomen and head during the New Year’s Day incident, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission report said.
Photos from the incident show the baby in a hospital bed with a neck brace and breathing tube.
Her right cheek, right hip and navel area are visibly injured.
The 29-page report released Wednesday includes an interview with the zoo supervisor in charge of the exhibit, who told investigators the girl “somehow fell backwards into the enclosure,” perhaps after losing her balance.
She landed on the ground behind one of the rhino’s feet.
The child had been petting and brushing the rhinos through the steel bars of the enclosure for about 10 minutes, according to the report.
There were three rhinos, who “were calm during the encounter,” and three zebras in the enclosure. The rhinos were eating and were positioned sideways to make them easier to pet and brush, the report said.
“The parents were very good about holding onto the child,” according to interviews with two supervisors at the exhibit. “Both parents were very mindful of the child and near her.”
After his daughter fell into the enclosure, her father reached in and grabbed her.
As he attempted to pull her back to safety, two female rhinos named Kibibi and Uzuri rammed her repeatedly with their noses and mouths, pressing her into the steel bars, the report said.
The Brevard Zoo said it had offered the rhino experience daily since 2009 without incident.
Following the incident, the father released a statement through Orlando Health thanking people for their concern about his family. Read more.