herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

A LITTLE girl who was "biten, held to the ground and shaken" by a Brazilian tapir is "fortunate" that she suffered no infectious complications and made a full recovery, the team of doctors that treated her have said.

A LITTLE girl who was "biten, held to the ground and shaken" by a Brazilian tapir is "fortunate" that she suffered no infectious complications and made a full recovery, the team of doctors that treated her have said.

The two-and-a-half year old toddler suffered horrific injuries to her left arm and tummy in during the attack at Dublin Zoo in August 2103.

The full extent of her wounds were revealed in graphic photographs showing deep lacerations to her arm and abdomen accompanying an academic article on the case.

The medics at the Temple Street Hospital, reporting in Irish Medical JOurnal (IMJ) where the girl was treated, do not name the zoo and confirm only that the attack occurred at a city zoo.

Entitled 'Animal Attack: An Unusual Case of Multiple Trauma in Childhood', the report states that the girl's father reported that the child was attending a behind the scenes tour in the tapir enclosure and was attacked by a female tapir who had recently calved.

The IMJ report state that the girl "was bitten, held to the ground and shaken. Her mother intervened and sustained two bite injuries while attempting to rescue the child. No loss of consciousness was reported".

Tapirs are about the size of a large pig originating in South America and attacks on humans are very rare. The Temple Hospital medics confirm one fatality occurring in Brazil from a tapir attack while a keeper at Oklahoma Zoo was injured.

In the case of the two and a half year old girl, the medics state on presentation, they noted that the girl sustained a deep laceration to her left forearm; a cut on her right forehead and multiple stomach lacerations.

The medics report that following stabilisation, the girl was brought to theatre for surgery and she was found to have four wounds to her abdomen including two puncture wounds on the right upper abdomen and one stab wound on the upper side abdomen and a large elliptical wound on the left upper abdomen.

The medics' inspection of the girl's abdomen revealed an 11cm injury and a perforation of the small intestine.

While under the anaesthetic, the hospital's plastic surgery team closed the wound around the left forearm.

The medics report that the girl did very well post operation and started an oral diet on day four after the operation.

The girl was discharged seven days after the operation. A six week follow-up found that the girl was fully recovered and both her abdominal and forearm wounds were healing well with no signs of infection."

At Dublin District Court last month, Dublin Zoo was ordered to pay €5,000 to two children's charities in relation to the August 8 2013 tapir attack on the mother and her daughter.

The zoo was ordered to pay the sums before December 8 when they are due to appear before the court again.

The zoo was ordered to make the charity payments after it pleaded guilty to failing to implement the most recent risk assessment for the tapir habitat on August 8th 2013. The Zoo apologised for the exceptional circumstances which gave rise to the incident.

As a result of the incident, the zoo has implemented a number of changes - most significant that visitor contact with animals ceased with immediate effect after the incident.

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