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Father accused of bringing, dropping child in San Diego Zoo's elephant habitat

The man allegedly dropped the child in the enclosure where an animal appeared ready to charge, authorities said.
/ Source: NBC News

A father who took his young child inside an elephant habitat at the San Diego Zoo on Friday has been arrested, officials said.

At one point, the father dropped the child, who NBC San Diego reported to be about 2 years old, but retrieved the toddler and escaped as an "upset" elephant appeared to want to charge in the Asian and African elephant area, said San Diego police Sgt. Ariel Savage.

The man, who was not identified, was arrested on allegations of child endangerment and trespassing in a zoo enclosure, the sergeant said.

No injuries were reported.

"Despite multiple barriers," the father "purposely and illegally trespassed into a habitat," San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance spokesman Andrew James said in a statement.

Matthew Passiglia said he was at a nearby cafe when he spotted the man and child getting past barriers, apparently to take a photo.

It appeared the man tripped and dropped the child, he said, before grabbing the toddler and getting away. Afterward, he said, an elephant head-butted one of the barriers

Spectators watched and took cellphone video, Passiglia said.

"San Diego Zoo security promptly responded to the incident," James said, "but the guests had already exited the habitat."

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