Belfast Telegraph

Toddler hurt in zoo tapir attack

A toddler and her mother are recovering in hospital after being mauled in a zoo by a Brazilian tapir.

The two-year-old girl was attacked during a supervised visit within one of the enclosures at Dublin Zoo.

The child's mother was also injured as she went to save her child.

It is understood the young girl is recovering well after treatment, with a a spokesman for the hospital describing her condition as stable.

Dublin Zoo has described the incident as "an unfortunate accident" and said an investigation is under way. It said a first aid team went to the scene immediately and attended to both the child, who was taken to Temple Street Children's Hospital, and her mother, who was brought to the Mater Hospital.

It is understood the little girl has undergone surgery after suffering deep abdomen and arm injuries by the usually docile creature, which looks like an anteater and is a similar size to a pig. In June, staff at Dublin Zoo celebrated the birth of a tapir to mother Rio, which is believed to have attacked the child.

Related to rhinos and horses, tapirs have a long, flexible snout that helps collect leaves, shoots, fruit and small branches to eat. While said to be docile, they have strong jaws and sharp teeth which they use to defend themselves if under threat.

Dublin Zoo confirmed there was an incident involving a mother and her child in the Brazilian tapir area during one of its regular supervised animal visits. "The Dublin Zoo first aid team was at the scene immediately and attended to the visitors," said a spokeswoman. "The welfare of our visitors and animals is of paramount importance and all steps are taken by our experienced staff to ensure optimum safety.

"Management at the zoo has launched an investigation into this regrettable occurrence and is reviewing all of its procedures with respect to supervised animal visits.

"Dublin Zoo would like to underline this was very much an isolated incident. We would also like to emphasise that our immediate concern is the health and wellbeing of the visitors involved in this accident. The staff of Dublin Zoo are deeply upset by this incident and we reiterate strongly that their utmost concern lies with the visitors and their speedy recovery."

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