The Cleveland Zoo is planning to press charges against a mother after her son fell into the zoo's cheetah pit over the weekend.
Authorities said the mother dangled her son over the railing of the exhibit Saturday afternoon and he slipped out of her grasp.
A fence more than 10 feet high surrounds the cheetahs, but a pavilion with an opening overlooks the enclosure.
Fox 8 in Cleveland said the boy injured his leg. The station said the mother would be charged with the crime of child endangerment.
She was also holding another child while she dropped her son, Cleveland Fire Department spokesman Larry Gray told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Zoo officials said the cheetahs never approached the boy, 2, or his parents, who jumped in to rescue him.
The near tragedy at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo horrified witnesses who heard screams after the boy slipped out of his mother’s grasp and fell 10 feet.
“You just hear these screams, then all you could see is the adult that jumped in, got the child and then somebody pulled him out,” one witness told Fox8. “It was a heavier-set guy with the kid. They started screaming and that’s when they started blocking everybody off.
The zoo’s executive director, Chris Kuhar, said the mother appeared to be at fault.
“Unfortunately, we have a number of eyewitness accounts that point to the strong likelihood that the child was dangled over the railing,” Kuhar said.
He told Fox8 the cheetahs “made no attempt to interact” with the child or his parents at any time.
The zoo closed the cheetah exhibit for the remainder of the day.