Belfast Telegraph

Dublin Zoo tapir savages girl (2) and mother in horror attack

A two-year-old girl in serious condition in hospital after being attacked by an animal in Dublin Zoo is “recovering”, the zoo has said.

The young girl received serious abdominal and arm injuries after she was attacked by a female tapir in the zoo yesterday.


The toddler's mother was also hurt when she tried to intervene and stop the usually docile animal from savaging her young daughter.


The horrific incident happened yesterday afternoon during a supervised encounter visit to the Brazilian tapir enclosure.


“Dublin Zoo has learned this morning that both the mother and child involved in yesterday’s unfortunate accident are recovering,” a spokesman for the zoo told


“This is obviously a huge source of relief for all concerned and we hope their improvement continues.


It is understood to have left the child unconscious and with deep lacerations on her stomach and arm caused by the animal's powerful jaws.

The child was last night continuing to receive treatment from surgeons at Temple Street Children's Hospital while the toddler's mother was treated in the Mater Hospital.


The incident happened after the family were allowed to view the animals from a closer vantage point than most visitors.


Despite being closely monitored by expert workers, it is understood the female tapir called Rio, who just gave birth to a calf last month, was panicked.


The attack followed, resulting in the child receiving serious injuries.


“The welfare of our visitors and animals is of paramount importance and all steps are taken by our experienced staff to ensure optimum safety,” the zoo spokesman added. 


“Dublin Zoo would like to underline that this was very much an isolated incident.


“Tapirs are normally extremely calm and passive animals and all our supervised animal encounters are conducted under the strict supervision of an experienced zookeeper.


“Management at the Zoo immediately launched an investigation into this regrettable occurrence and as a result Dublin Zoo has reviewed all of its procedures with respect to supervised animal encounters. 


“At this juncture, all supervised animal encounters have ceased.


“The staff of Dublin Zoo are still deeply upset by this incident. We reiterate strongly that our utmost concern lies with the visitors and their continued recovery.”


A tapir is a Brazilian animal that looks similar to an anteater. The usually docile animal is fast and powerful.


Rio gave birth to a baby tapir in the zoo recently. The calf was the second to be born to the tapir at the zoo.


In 1998 a zookeeper lost her arm after being attacked by a tapir at the Oklahoma City Zoo.


Zoo officials were not certain why the tapir, a female from Malaysia, attacked the keeper, who was feeding the animal before the zoo opened to visitors. The tapir's two-month-old calf was also in the cage at the time.

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