Toddler's fall into rhino exhibit at Florida zoo and her injuries detailed in new report

Toddler's fall into rhino exhibit at Florida zoo and her injuries detailed in new report
Image: The child fell through these bars at the rhino enclosure at the Brevard Zoo in Florida on Jan. 1, 2019.
The child fell through these bars at the rhino enclosure at the Brevard Zoo in Florida on Jan. 1, 2019.Dan Billow / WESH

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
SUBSCRIBE
By Minyvonne Burke

A toddler who fell into a rhino exhibit earlier this month while visiting a Florida zoo with her parents suffered injuries to her liver, kidney and head, officials said in an incident report released Thursday.

The girl, 21 months, was participating in a Rhino Encounter — which allows guests to touch the animals under the supervision of zookeepers — at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne with her mother and father when she fell backward through two steel poles into the rhino exhibit, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in the report.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

The girl’s father immediately grabbed her and was trying to bring her back through the poles when two female rhinos pinned the child against the bars with their snouts, the report states.

The girl was in the rhino exhibit for roughly 10 seconds and was “conscious and alert” when her father pulled her back between the bars. She was then rushed to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

The girl, who officials initially said was 2 years old, suffered multiple contusions to her back, chest, abdomen, and head. She also had a bruised lung, a laceration in her liver, an injury to her kidney and a large lump on her forehead, according to the report.

The girl’s mother also injured her arm when she tried to help get her daughter out of the rhino exhibit. The child was released from the hospital on Jan. 6, five days after the incident.

Keith Winsten, the executive director of the zoo, said in a statement at the time of the incident that the Rhino Encounter would be suspended until the zoo had “thoroughly reviewed our processes and procedures to ensure this cannot happen again.” A spokesperson for the zoo did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.

Brevard Zoo, which has more than 900 animals, has hosted the Rhino Encounter since 2009. The toddler's falling into the exhibit on Jan. 1 was the first such incident since the encounter began, according to the report.

Shamar Walters contributed.