MELBOURNE, Fla. — A toddler who fell into a rhino enclosure at the Brevard Zoo is still being treated at a local hospital on Wednesday morning, but she is "doing well," according to her father.
- Brevard Zoo says a rhino made contact with child
- Unclear how the child was hurt
- RELATED: Child Falls into Brevard Zoo Rhino Exhibit
The 2-year-old girl and her mother were both transported to Orlando-area hospitals after the toddler fell into a rhino enclosure on Tuesday.
The girl was airlifted to the Arnold Palmer Hospital and her mother was treated at the Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Orlando Health released a statement from the father of the child on Wednesday morning.
"Yesterday was a trying day for our family. We're thankful to everyone who has reached out with their concerns. 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," he stated.
The child and her parent's identities have not been released. It is also not clear how the child was injured.
Response to the Incident
According to the Brevard Zoo, the child fell in between steel bars that separate the rhinos from visitors, and while inside, one of the rhinos made contact with the child.
The incident happened during a hands-on exhibit, known as a Rhino Encounter, where guests are allowed to brush the rhinos and sometimes touch them by reaching between thick steel bars.
The executive director of the Brevard Zoo, Keith Winsten, told Spectrum News the child was being held by her father when she somehow stumbled and fell backwards into the rhino enclosure.
An unidentified Brevard Zoo worker called 911 from the administration building, telling the dispatcher what took place minutes before. When asked, the caller said the child was conscious, breathing, and alert.
Winsten later clarified to Spectrum News the area is flat level -- not a fall, per se -- and the child went through the bars.
There were three white rhinos inside the enclosure at the time, and one of the female rhinos approached the child.
"Rhinos are really fast, so the two female rhinos turned to face the new thing in their exhibit. We don’t believe any contact was made with any feet or a horn, but we do think the snout may have touched the child," Winsten explained.
Zoo officials say the only part of the rhino that touched the child was its snout, which they described as being "somewhat soft."
However, due to the sheer size of these animals, any type of encounter could be harmful.
"The poles are there to make sure you don't go in with the rhinos, and even though 11 inches sounds pretty small if the person turns sideways you know," Winsten said.
The Brevard Zoo has provided the Rhino Encounter exhibit since 2009, and it is provided as a special educational service for people who sign up in advance.
This is the first time someone has been injured at the rhino exhibit.
As of now, the rhino exhibit is temporarily suspended while zoo officials review their policy.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking into the incident.
Reporter Greg Pallone contributed to this story.