A father who allegedly carried his 2-year-old daughter into the San Diego Zoo‘s elephant enclosure was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty, authorities said Saturday.
Jose Navarrete, 25, was accused of entering the enclosure at about 4:20 p.m. Friday, according to Officer Tony Martinez of the San Diego Police Department.
Despite multiple barriers, Navarrete illegally trespassed into a zoo habitat, home to Asian and African elephants, zoo spokesman Andrew James said. He allegedly climbed through two barriers to get into the enclosure, police said.
Once inside, an elephant noticed the intruders and started moving toward them. As he was trying to climb back out, the father dropped the girl, but he picked her up and escaped the enclosure as the elephant was trotting toward them, police said.
Zoo security officers called the police, who arrived and eventually arrested the father on suspicion of child cruelty.
Navarrete was booked into the San Diego Central Jail on Friday on felony charges of suspicion of child cruelty and possible injury or death, according to jail records. He is being held on $100,000 bail, with arraignment scheduled for March 30.
The child was not injured and she went home with her mother, Martinez said.
James said the elephants in the enclosure were unharmed.
Updated at 22:45 p.m. March 21, 2021
–City News Service