Toddler Who Fell Into Florida Rhino Exhibit Had Bruised Lung, Lacerated Liver

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The toddler who fell into a rhino exhibit at a Florida zoo suffered serious injuries, including a bruised lung and lacerated liver, according to a report released Thursday.

In addition to the lung and liver damage, the unidentified girl also sustained an injury to her kidney. She was badly bruised on her face, back, chest and abdomen as well, according to an incident report released Thursday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The 21-month-old was with her parents at the Brevard Zoo's Rhino Encounter, which allows patrons to touch the animals while standing behind steel poles spaced several inches apart.

"The parents were very good about holding onto the child," according to interviews with supervisors at the exhibit, CNN reported. "Both parents were very mindful of the child and near her."

But the girl apparently lost her balance and fell backward between the poles and landed inside the enclosure, behind one of the rhino's feet. 

The girl was only in the enclosure for about 10 seconds, the report said. The father reached in and grabbed her and began pulling her to safety. That is when the child was spotted by two female rhinos that began pushing her against the bars with their snouts and mouths, the report said.

"It wasn't until the dad picked her up and she was in the rhino's field of view that the rhinos began getting nervous. Both rhinos backed up and were spooked and began pushing on the child," the report stated. 

The dad and mom were bruised trying to recover their daughter.

The baby was airlifted to an Orlando hospital, where she was kept for five days.

Her father released a statement at the time, thanking people for their concern.

"Our daughter is in good care at Arnold Palmer Hospital (for Children) 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 said.

Zoo officials closed the exhibit and are conducting an investigation of the incident. Zoo director Keith Winsten said horizontal bars may be placed across the poles. The enclosure will remain shuttered until zookeepers had "thoroughly reviewed our processes and procedures to ensure this cannot happen again," he said after the accident.

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