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Police: Man in custody after taking 2-year-old into San Diego Zoo elephant habitat

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Posted at 8:45 PM, Mar 19, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A father was taken into custody after San Diego Police say he carried his 2-year-old daughter into the San Diego Zoo's elephant exhibit on Friday.

Police confirmed that at about 4 p.m. officers were called after the man was seen carrying his daughter through two fences and into the enclosure. One of those fences is electrified, according to police.

In a statement, zoo officials said the man, "purposely and illegally trespassed into a habitat, which is home to our Asian and African elephants." According to police, the elephants became upset after the man entered the enclosure with his daughter. Seeing the animals upset, he fled the exhibit with his daughter, dropping her on the way out, police added.

The man and his daughter made it out of the exhibit before zoo security could arrive, the zoo said.

Both elephants and the man and his daughter were not injured during the incident, according to the zoo.

"We were standing right there. We were 20 yards away," one witness told ABC 10News. "Yelling, 'dude, what are you doing? Get out of there! Get the baby out! What are you doing? Get out of the elephant enclosure.' The elephant is screaming and charging him. He's unaware of what's going on and barely got out of there with his life and his child's life."

SDPD says the man could face at least child endangerment charges. Officers are investigating if drugs or alcohol played a role in the incident.

This article was written by Mark Saunders for KGTV.