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Can I Sue a Zoo for Personal Injuries?

Over the past several weeks, news headlines and social media feeds have been dominated by the story of the three-year-old child who slipped past a fence and fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.

The child was seized by a 450-pound gorilla, who dragged the boy across the enclosure’s moat. After 10 minutes, zoo officials fatally shot the gorilla to free the child.

The case has sharply divided the public, with some saying the zoo was right to do whatever it took to protect the child. Others disagree, claiming the parents are to blame for allegedly neglecting to monitor the boy.

Animal activists have even filed a complaint against the zoo, prompting the local prosecutor to review the case to determine if the county should bring criminal charges against the zoo or the child’s parents.

Zoos are supposed to be educational and entertaining, but they also house wild animals. In many cases, these animals are predators who will attack when they are hungry or feel threatened.

If you have been injured at a zoo, speak to a Daytona Beach personal injury lawyer, as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Zoos Settles Wrongful Death Cases

Tragically, the recent Cincinnati Zoo case is not the first time a child or young person has been injured or killed at a zoo.

In 2012, a two-year-old boy fell 10 feet from a wooden railing into an exhibit that housed wild African dogs at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Several of the dogs fatally mauled the child.

The zoo, which originally claimed the mother was responsible for the child’s death because she had lifted him onto the railing, settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount in 2014.

In 2007, three young men were attacked, one fatally, by a Siberian tiger at the San Francisco Zoo. Although the zoo claimed the men, who were all in their teens and early 20s, provoked the tiger into jumping out of her enclosure, evidence showed the walls of the tiger’s enclosure were four feet lower than recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Other evidence showed zoo workers had warned zoo officials about the wall height, but that the zoo had ignored their warnings. The zoo ultimately settled the case for $900,000.

Zoo Injuries

Cases involving zoo animals may receive a lot of attention, but injuries at zoos can occur in many other ways.

Although zoos must take great care to protect visitors from the dangerous animals they house, zoos also have a responsibility to make sure their grounds and equipment are safe and properly maintained.

  • Defective or unsafe equipment: Many zoos operate shuttle buses, trains, trams, and other equipment. Zoo visitors can get seriously hurt when zoo officials and workers fail to property inspect and maintain equipment.The zoo can also be held accountable for failing to train its workers in the proper operation, care, and management of equipment. Zoos are also responsible for making sure their animals’ enclosures are safe and secure.

    In 2015, one family got the scare of their lives when a gorilla charged at their daughter, slamming his powerful body into the glass wall of his enclosure and cracking the glass before their eyes. The incident was captured on video by another zoo visitor.
  • Slips and falls: With so many animals under their care, zoos use a lot of water. It’s common for zookeepers to wash debris off surfaces with hoses throughout the day.

    Zoos also use vast amounts of water to hydrate their animals. A slip and fall on a concrete sidewalk or other hard surface can result in serious injuries.
  • Animal attacks: Most people think of dog bites when they think of an animal attack, but the animals inside zoos are usually much more dangerous than a domesticated dog.

    Zoos are held to strict standards when it comes to keeping care and control of their animals.

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Have You Been Hurt at a Zoo?

Most people visit zoos to have a good experience with loved ones and friends. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting hurt while you’re there.

If you do get injured, you need a Daytona Beach personal injury lawyer on your side right away. Visit our video center for more tips and information on what to do after an injury.


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