Exactly 1,759 days ago, a tragedy struck that forever impacted the course of history, launching a series of existential questions about the ethics, or lack therof, behind zoos introducing an apparently not-so-popular third-party candidate during the highly-contentious 2016 election, and even kick-starting ‘Space Karen’ Elon Musk's short-lived music career – the death of Harambe the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. Almost five years following poor Harambe's death at the hands of zoo workers after a three-year-old boy climbed into his enclosure, it seems we gleaned absolutely nothing from this deadly tale of woe, still barging into zoo animals' personal spaces with reckless abandon.
On Friday, a dad was arrested on charges of child endangerment after climbing into an elephant's enclosure at the San Diego Zoo with his two-year-old daughter in tow, navigating several barriers in an attempt to get close to the pachyderm. After 25-year-old Jose Manuel Navarrete "purposely and illegally trespassed" through the obstacles and into an area reserved for Asian and African elephants, zoo spokesperson Andrew James told ABC News, it seems the animal was not too pleased about the unexpected visitors, charging straight towards the man and his child. Upon noticing the impending attack, the duo snuck back through the fence, slipping away physically unscathed in a slick getaway immortalized on Twitter. Fortunately, the elephants in the enclosure were also unharmed, James noted.
The young father's motive in enacting this highly-dangerous escapade? None other than that of every influencer's favorite excuse for doing the inadvisable – looking to snap an Instagram-worthy selfie with the elephant, according to police. Although he's likely grappling with regret for his dangerous misadventure, being held on a $100,000 bail, it seems those around him were well aware that breaking into an elephant's enclosure with a toddler by your side was not the wisest move.
"These guys right away were saying, ‘That elephant is going to charge,’ and it did,” Lori Ortale, a witness to the fiasco, told local Fox affiliate, KSWB-TV.
Yet thanks to several bystanders, including Jake Ortale, who warned Manuel of the impending threat, the father and daughter were able to maneuver to safety just in the nick of time."We told him to get out and he turned around and he saw it thankfully just in time,” Ortale recalled. “He runs, throws his baby through the gate and it’s seconds from hitting him. He jumps through the gate, falls on the ground and then it roared." But the celebration surrounding the pair's return after such a close encounter was short-lived “The baby starts crying and people were just mad at this guy," he continued.
So folks, remember – if you're ever tempted to climb into an animal's enclosure during your next trip to the zoo, just don't. It's 2021, we need some time before we can even start thinking about potential third-party candidates to compete in the 2024 presidential election.
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