A trip to the Cleveland zoo turned into a terrifying ordeal for a 2-year-old boy this weekend. Police allege his mom dangled him over a fence, then dropped him inside an enclosure with two cheetahs. Now she has been charged with a crime, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Lucky for him, the animals weren’t roused to attack and were barely interested, added WKYC. But he did suffer a broken leg — he fell several feet — and was taken from the zoo to the hospital. Though both his parents managed to get into the enclosure and fetch him right away, the mom has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
“While this incident is disturbing to everyone, we are glad injuries were not any more severe. We have a number of eyewitness accounts that indicate the child was held over the railing and then dropped, ” said Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Director Christopher Kuhar.
Michelle Schwab, 38, of Delaware, Ohio — who works at a child care center, added the Washington Post — dangled her kid over the fence while at the Cleveland zoo Saturday afternoon. The incident was disturbing to other zoo visitors, like Michael Lurie, added WKYC.
“We were coming around the gorillas and we heard a kid screaming. You saw how far the drop was and you just couldn’t believe the kid didn’t hurt himself from falling down on the ground. I’m looking at the cheetahs and then all I hear is the screams. Everything happened so quick.”
If she is convicted, his mom could face six months behind bars or have to pay $1,000 fine. She will be in court Tuesday.
“I was just shocked,” Michael Lurie continued. “I didn’t understand how the parents let the kid go over the thing.”
Now that she has been charged, Schwab’s employers have taken an interest in the incident at the zoo. Her role as an assistant director at a child care center in Columbus is now uncertain; she won’t be at work until the matter is “investigated and addressed,” WKYC quoted her employer as saying.
“In addition to the agencies looking into this issue, we are looking into the incident further ourselves, as we closely examine issues involving the treatment of children by our employees, even if those incidents arise outside of our centers.”
Any mom visiting the zoo in Cleveland (or anywhere), would be wise to let her children watch the animals safely from the other side of the fence – not over it, lest she be charged with a crime.
[Photo Courtesy Cameron Spencer/Getty Images]