A visitor to the San Diego Zoo was arrested on Friday after an incident in the elephant enclosure. Jose Navarrete, 25, took his 2-year-old daughter into the enclosure after passing multiple barriers. He then dropped his child while trying to escape but was able to pick her back up.
A Twitter user posted a video that showed Navarrete standing with his daughter in his arms inside the enclosure. He had his back to the elephant, which quickly came towards him. Once Navarrete noticed the massive animal, he began running toward the fence. However, he dropped his daughter on the ground before climbing through the fence.
Who’s dumbass babydaddy is this 🤦🏻♂️— Santi 🃏● 🇲🇽 (@heafukinsav) March 21, 2021
Dude almost got himself & his child killed by an elephant at the san diego zoo. pic.twitter.com/E2FNWANrjb
"She face planted onto the ground! Did nobody object and alert park staff when he made the first leap over the first fence?" one person asked. Several others weighed in and heavily criticized the father for his poor decision to climb into the enclosure.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the man climbed into the enclosure with the sole purpose of taking a photo with the African bull elephant. Witness Matthew Passiglia told NBC 7 that it only took "30 seconds" for the elephant to notice Navarrete.
"A lot of people froze and didn't know really how to take it in, then immediately everyone was pleading with him and then it became frantic and hysterical," Passiglia said about the incident. "It was a big roar. [The elephant] stuck its head up in the air and its tusks and he started trotting toward them."
The SDPD said officers with its Zoo Detail Unit arrested Navarette after the close call at the elephant enclosure. He now faces a charge related to child cruelty and is being held on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled for arraignment on March 30.
"This afternoon, March 19, 2021, two guests, despite multiple barriers, purposely and illegally trespassed into a habitat, which is home to our Asian and African elephants," the San Diego Zoo said in a statement to NBC San Diego. "San Diego Zoo security promptly responded to the incident, but the guests had already exited the habitat. Both the elephants and the guests are unharmed. San Diego Police Department is on site and we will follow their guidance."