by Max Brantley
Responding to the Little Rock zoo on reports of a child that has fallen into the cat exhibit. Injuries are unknown and I am unable to confirm any additional information
The City of Little Rock and the Little Rock Zoo issued the following statement about an incident involving a child falling into a jaguar exhibit:No word yet from the Zoo about evaluating the safety of the exhibit in light of today's accident.
A child fell into the jaguar exhibit at the Little Rock Zoo and has sustained injuries. At around 10:45 a.m. Zoo staff arrived at the jaguar exhibit and found that a toddler had fallen into the enclosure. Zoo staff responding at the jaguar exhibit immediately called for help over the radio and were assisted by other staff with a fire extinguisher to keep the cats away from the child. Zoo staff are trained to use fire extinguishers to safely overwhelm potentially dangerous animals if an incident like this were to occur. Zoo staff were able to successfully keep the cats back while other Zoo staff lowered a ladder into the exhibit. A Zoo staffer then climbed into the exhibit and retrieved the child who was conscious and responding. The child was then handed to the child’s father and both were taken by golf cart to the Zoo’s back gate entrance where the child was placed in an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital.
City Manager Bruce Moore said:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the child and the family. The safety of our citizens is of paramount value and our staff followed training procedures on rescuing the child and were able to respond quickly and efficiently and work with emergency personnel. A full investigation into the incident is being conducted.”
The enclosure meets all USDA and Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) requirements. The Little Rock Zoo has temporarily closed the exhibit to conduct an internal investigation of this matter.The police are promising a fuller report later that might give more insight to how the accident occurred. An e-mail from City Manager Bruce Moore, quoted by KARK, says the child fell after being placed on the rail by the child's grandfather. KARK also quotes a police spokesman as saying some of the child's injuries might have been caused by an animal.
“We are treating a child here at Arkansas Children’s Hospital who was injured earlier today at the Little Rock Zoo. The child’s condition is critical. We respect the wishes of the child’s guardian who asked that the child’s name and any additional information not be shared at this time. Thank you for respecting the privacy of this family
The report states the child had puncture wounds. It is unknown if the fall or the animal caused the child's injuries. We are waiting on a medical report