UK & World News
Tapir Attack: Toddler Mauled During Zoo Visit
A Brazilian tapir has attacked a young girl and her mother during a trip to a zoo.
The attack happened during a supervised visit within one of the enclosures at Dublin Zoo. The child's mother was injured when she went to save her child.
The zoo says the incident was "an unfortunate accident" and said an investigation was under way.
A tapir is a large usually docile mammal, which looks a bit like a cross between a long-nosed pig and a small horse.
The zoo said a first aid team went to the scene immediately. The girl was taken to Dublin's Temple Street Children's Hospital. Her mother went to the Mater Hospital.
The youngster suffered deep abdomen and arm injuries and is understood to have had surgery.
In June, staff at Dublin Zoo celebrated the birth of a baby tapir to mother Rio, which is believed to have attacked the child.
Rio's female baby is called Jenny and her father is called Marmaduke. Marmaduke is not thought to have been involved.
The tapir is normally vegetarian and many species are endangered in the wild in South East Asia and Latin America.
Related to rhinos and horses, the tapir's long, flexible snout helps collect leaves, shoots, fruit and small branches to eat.
They have strong jaws and sharp teeth which they use to defend themselves if under threat.
Dublin Zoo said the attack happened on Thursday during one of its regular supervised animal visits.
A spokeswoman said: "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."
The spokeswoman said the zoo understands the mother and toddler who were injured are recovering well.
Attacks on humans by tapirs are not unknown. Although shy, when scared they can defend themselves.
In 1998, a keeper at a zoo in Oklahoma City was mauled and had an arm severed after opening the door to a female tapir's enclosure to push food inside.
The tapir's two-month-old baby was also inside the cage at the time.
In 2006, a Costa Rican politician became lost in the one of the country's national parks and was found by a search party with a "nasty bite" from a wild tapir.