Giraffe picks up toddler before returning her to shocked parents, video shows: “My heart stopped, my stomach dropped,” her father said

Tran Hanh
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June 07, 2024

The two-year-old’s family was feeding the giraffes at a Texas wildlife center when one of them accidentally grabbed the girl instead of the food.

Two-year-old Paisley Toten was gazing up at a giraffe from the back of her dad’s pickup truck as the family drove through a Texas wildlife preserve last weekend.

“Oh, look,” her mom, Sierra Robert, cooed as the animal lowered its head toward Paisley, who was holding a bag of food for it.

But instead of taking the food, the tall giraffe grabbed the toddler’s pink shirt with its mouth and lifted her into the air.

“My heart stopped, my stomach dropped,” her father, Jason Toten, who was driving and saw Paisley disappear in the rearview mirror, told CNN.

The family was visiting Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, an accredited conservation organization that offers visitors a seven-mile drive through its animal preservein Glen Rose, Tex.The drive includes a chance to feed giraffes, which the family had stopped to do.

Robert, who was in the pickup bed with her daughter and had been filming the giraffe with her phone, shouted. The giraffe immediately dropped the girl back into her mother’s arms.

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“Her falling to me, me having to catch her, like, it’s all in slow motion,” Robert told ABC News.

The family didn’t immediately respond to a request Thursday from The Washington Post. Toten told CNN that his daughter had been holding a small bag of food “and the giraffe went to get the bag, not her.”

In a statement, the wildlife centersaid it would take steps to prevent such an incident from happening again, including no longer allowing visitors to ride in pickup beds.

“The safety of our guests and animals is always of utmost importance to us,” Fossil Rim spokesman Warren Lewis said in the statement, noting that such an incident had never occurred there before.

But the family took the surprising event in stride, sayingthey would return to the park.

“The giraffe didn’t mean to,” Totentold NBC News. “We’re not mad at the giraffe. We’re not mad at the park.”

Afterward, Paisley’s parents took her to the gift shop and bought her a stuffed giraffe.

“I figured she deserved it,” her dad said.

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