Brevard Zoo decides on modifications for rhino encounter where toddler was hurt

Zoo awaiting approval from state wildlife investigators

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MELBOURNE, Fla. – One week after a little girl was hurt falling into its rhino encounter, Brevard Zoo officials have decided how they will modify the close-up exhibit to prevent another accident.

The zoo said Tuesday it's waiting on the state to approve the changes.

"We're just completing right now our internal review of the incident and the changes that we want to make," executive director Keith Winsten said.

On New Year's Day, FWC agents investigated when the zoo said a 2-year-old girl slipped out of her father's arms and into the rhinos' side of the ground-level enclosure, where a rhino contacted her with its snout.

The little girl was released from the hospital days after she suffered minor injuries.

"We're really happy the child's been released from the hospital and we wish her and her family a speedy recovery," Winsten said.

The zoo's executive director said last week the zoo's internal review was open to possibly recommending addition of horizontal bars to the vertical barriers on the enclosure.

Some guests with small children said they supported safety changes.

"The zoo should maybe make the gap a little bit narrower," parent Bri Mescher said.

Another guest at the zoo Tuesday, Lindsey Gruszkowski, agreed that she'd like to see some changes.

"I think the animal encounter is a little dangerous and I wouldn't have brought my 3-year-old into it, personally," Gruszkowski said.

If and when the FWC approves modifications to the hands-on rhino encounter, guests will then learn how exactly the zoo says it will prevent another accident.

Stay with News 6 and for developments to this story.

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