SAN DIEGO – A father has been arrested on suspicion of child endangerment after he carried his 2-year-old daughter into the elephant habitat at the San Diego Zoo to take a photograph with the animals.
The man bypassed multiple barriers and “purposely and illegally trespassed” into a habitat for Asian and African elephants Friday afternoon, zoo spokesman Andrew James said.
A witness video provided to NBC San Diego shows a man dropping the child as they flee the enclosure as a trumpeting elephant charged at them. The man picked up the toddler and was able to get her out safely.
Police said the 25-year-old man wanted to take a photo with the African bull elephant. James said the elephants were not harmed.
San Diego County jail records show Jose Manuel Navarrete was being held on $100,000 bail for investigation of child endangerment. He was set to be arraigned on March 30.
It wasn't immediately known if he had a lawyer who would speak on his behalf.
Witness Lori Ortale told KSWB-TV she heard a woman yelling “Jose, stop” before a man jumped the fence and through the elephant enclosure.
“These guys right away were saying, ‘That elephant is going to charge,’ and it did,” Ortale said.