'Rhino man' may face garda probe after zoo incident

kid in rhino enclosure 2.jpg
kid in rhino enclosure 2.jpg

The man pictured with a child who was standing inside the rhino enclosure at Dublin Zoo may face a garda investigation if he can be identified.

Today's Star reports that if a Dublin Zoo investigation leads to the man being investigated, then he could face a garda probe.

However, the gardai have confirmed that a formal complaint has yet to be lodged regarding the incident.

It's believed the young boy was lifted over the fence into the rhinoceros enclosure, with an adult holding his hand.

It's understood that the incident took place on Friday afternoon.

A number of pictures of the event were taken and shared on social media over the weekend. Rhinos are known for their unpredictable nature. A male rhino weighs around 2.3 tonnes and can charge at speeds of up to 40kph.

Gillian Bird, of the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the organisation "totally and utterly condemned" the action taken by the zoo visitors.

"This is horrendous, from the point of view of what is being done to the child, but also from an animal welfare point of view," she told the Herald.

"Generally, it's just shocking that an adult could put a child in harm's way like this," she added.

Ms Bird added that rhinos can be unpredictable animals, but stressed that other creatures in captivity, such as zebras, can also be dangerous to curious visitors.

But she also praised Dublin Zoo, adding that keepers "care greatly for each animal".

"Even if the animal approaches the child out of curiosity, it could end up hurting a person or stamping on them unintentionally."

A spokesperson for Dublin Zoo said an investigation had been launched.

"The matter is being taken care of internally by Dublin Zoo," she said.

"It's completely against Dublin Zoo's health and safety rules but it is being looked into at the moment."