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Dublin: 12°C Sunday 19 September 2021

Two year old and her mother attacked by tapir at Dublin Zoo

A Brazilian tapir became agitated during an enclosure encounter at Dublin Zoo, attacking a young girl and her mother.

Rio, the tapir at the centre of the attack, with her calf in July
Rio, the tapir at the centre of the attack, with her calf in July
Image: Dublin Zoo

A TWO YEAR-old girl is in a serious condition in hospital after being attacked by a normally-docile animal in Dublin Zoo.

The mother of the child was also attacked as she attempted to stop the animal.

The young girl was part of a supervised visit to the animal’s enclosure at the zoo. It is believed that the tapir became agitated and attacked the child, leaving her with deep cuts on her arm and stomach. She underwent surgery last night in Temple Street Children’s Hospital and her mother is in a less serious condition in the Mater Hospital.

A Dublin Zoo spokesperson said that the incident was unusual and called it “an unfortunate accident involving a mother and her child in the Brazilian tapir area”.

“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 well-being of the visitors involved in this accident.
“The staff of Dublin Zoo are deeply upset by this incident and their utmost concern lies with the visitors and their speedy recovery,” the spokesperson added.
Tapirs look similar to anteaters and are about the size of a pig. Their jaws are incredibly powerful, but they do not have much of a history of attacking humans.
In 1998, an Oklahoma City Zoo keeper lost an arm after being attacked by a female tapir.

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