Rhino stares down little boy in enclosure for 20 minutes

Krystal Johnson

A young boy was pictured standing inside a rhino enclosure in an Ireland zoo for 20 minutes, just metres from the animal staring him down.

The incident took place inside an African Savanna enclosure in the Dublin Zoo on Saturday.

The youngster was reportedly lifted into the enclosure by a male relative and held there for 20 minutes. Photo: TwitterCiaran Ferrie

The shocking photos show a southern white rhino staring down the little boy perched on top of a large rock inside the safety barricade as he held onto his relative’s hand.

Ciaran Ferrie tweeted two pictures of the incident, one of them revealing an accompanying adult taking photos of the pair.

“Just a child inside the rhino enclosure at @dublinzoo,” Mr Ferrie wrote.

Another photo was uploaded to Twitter by Adrianna Straszewska showing a closer view of the youngster standing inside the enclosure with a man holding on to his hand.

The white rhino is seen staring down the little boy. Photo: Twitter/Adrianna Straszewska

One shocked onlooker told the Irish Mirror a male relative lifted the boy into the pen who was urging him to go further in for a photo.

“It was such a stupid thing to do. He was only metres away from the rhinos. People were totally horrified,” the witness said adding the boy was in there for 20 minutes.

Another witness told Mail Online that the child didn’t look scared and didn’t appear to have a clue what was really going on.

Dublin Zoo said they were investigating the incident and the matter will be taken care of internally.

The enclosure also houses zebras, giraffes, ostriches and scimitar-horned Oryx. Photo: 7 News

“It’s completely against Dublin Zoo’s health and safety rules but it is being looked into at the moment,” the zoo said, according to the newspaper.

The Africa-themed enclosure is the main exhibit in the zoo and opened in 2001. It covers 14 hectares and the rhino shares the land with zebras, ostriches, scimitar-horned Oryx and giraffes.

The terrifying incident comes months after Harambe, a gorilla at a US zoo, was shot dead after he picked up a four-year-old child and dragged him through water after he had fallen into his enclosure.

The 180kg gorilla held the boy for about 10 minutes inside the Cincinnati Zoo enclosure before he was shot dead by a dangerous animal response team.

The killing promoted an emotional response from many, with it being referred to as a "senseless death".