Off Beat Stories

Sep 16, 2009 2:07 PM by Jamie Smith

Zebra bites off girl's pinkie

A North Carolina 9 year-old is recovering after a bizarre incident at a petting zoo. Elizabeth Ross has always loved animals but she'll never think about them in quite the same way after what happened to her at Buffalo Beal's Animal Park in Maiden on Labor Day.

The soft spoken fourth-grader was hand feeding a zebra when it took off nearly all of her right pinkie finger. "It actually grabbed onto my hand and took it back a little bit. My Paw Paw had to smack it a few times to get my hand back. I was really scared," she recalled.

Animal Control is investigating and they've asked the State Department of Agriculture to get involved. "I still couldn't believe it happened. It's not something you hear every day that your daughter's finger has gotten bitten off by a zebra," explained Elizabeth's mom, Kristy Ross.

"I just assumed if they're giving me the food to feed them it will be OK. It's going to be safe," Elizabeth said. Instead, Elizabeth will have to learn to write with just four fingers. She's also receiving a series of seven rabies shots.

The owner of the park says what happened to Elizabeth is highly unusual. He admits two kids and one volunteer have been bitten in the last couple of years, but he insists the zoo has done nothing wrong.

That's because in North Carolina, all a zoo like Buffalo Beal's needs is a permit and a promise to care for the animals. As for the paying public, you're basically on your own. "I'm just concerned for other parents," a distraught Kristy Ross said.

It's something she wished she had known sooner to better protect her daughter.

 

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