Zoo officials said the father “purposely and illegally trespassed” when he brought the toddler beyond multiple barriers and into the habitat for the zoo’s Asian and African elephants. At least one of the elephants spotted the people and charged at them, according to the San Diego Police Department.
The incident was reported to authorities at about 4:20 p.m.
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“San Diego Zoo security promptly responded to the incident, but the guests had already exited the habitat,” zoo officials said in a news release.
Both guests and the elephants in the enclosure were unharmed in the incident, police and zoo officials said. The man, who was not publicly identified by police, was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and for entering an animal enclosure.
Police remained at the zoo Friday evening investigating the incident.