BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission signed off on multiple changes that need to be made to the rhino encounter at the Brevard Zoo before it can reopen.
The attraction has been closed since January when a toddler stumbled into the exhibit and was seriously injured.
Among the 12 procedural changes signed off on by the FWC are new limits on the ages of those permitted in the exhibit and the number of people allowed in at one time.
Children younger than 7 will no longer be allowed in the rhino encounter, and only eight people will be allowed in at one time.
According to the FWC, one rhino keeper must stay with the rhinos at all times while the other escorts guests. And, at any time if guests don't comply with instructions, rhino keepers can end the encounter with no refund.
FWC also approved a plan for a net barrier to prevent guests from falling through the bars into the encounter area, which will be put into place prior to each encounter.
In January, a 21-month-old stumbled through the exhibit’s steel poles. According to FWC, the activity attracted a pair of rhinos that began to strike their snouts repeatedly against the child who was pushed into the poles and seriously injured.
Once the changes are made, the zoo could resume the rhino encounters in a matter of weeks.
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