Zoos are, in a sense, a leftover relic from the pre-internet age. Before the internet, you may never see some of the animals housed in a zoo. You might see the popular ones in a book here and there, but without the zoo, they’d never come to life. Zoos offer some good to the animal kingdom, with their main positive attribute being the fact that they keep endangered animals alive. However, many adults rightfully consider zoos as “animal prison.”
Zoos are usually a place considered as fun for the whole family. Kids can experience new animals that they’ll likely (and usually hopefully) never encounter in the wild, and parents sometimes get to watch their kids interact with these animals in cute and unusual ways.
There are many cases, though, that serve as cautionary tales against bringing your kids to the zoo. In multiple examples of these to follow, and some of them even carry the harshest of consequences especially when children are little and propped-up on the border of a pit. There is a huge chance that something bad can happen. One of the most popular memes of all time was born out of this fact (RIP Harambe). And when you look at the raw footage, it’s a terrifying sight.
15. Ready To Pounce
There are a few photos of predators attacking children on this list, but this one stands out. The video taken shows a little boy waving at the lion, who was creeping down the stairs at the time. He lays down where he is while the boy is still looking. But as soon as the kid turns around, the lion sprints towards him with force, knocking its head on the glass when it finally reaches the boy.
The boy was visibly scared by this encounter and the parents should be too. If a few panes of glass weren’t in between the two of them, that lion would have killed that kid. Propping kids in front of lions at the zoo is borderline torture for the lion. The kid would be such an easy lunch but there’s some sort of human force field between them.
14. Bear Smashed The Glass
Of course, we all feel safe when we’re standing behind the glass walls at the zoo. You’ll see multiple photos of predators getting a little too close for comfort below, but this had to be among the scariest moments for anyone watching.
A grizzly bear at the Minnesota zoo apparently had enough of confinement, as it picked up a large rock and hurled it at the glass multiple times, eventually shattering it. These glasses are usually close to five panels thick, so this was no small feat for the grizzly.
Of course, there were some small children around at the time, which would have been a tasty appetizer for the beast had it fully broken free. While bears are not likely to attack humans in the wild unless threatened, bears in captivity probably subscribe to a different way of thinking.
13. Easy Prey
It’s easy to discount the danger that some animals pose when they’re behind a thick pane of glass, but these are predatory creatures. This lion saw its prey and snuck up on it so effectively that the kid nearly had a heart attack when his parents told him to turn around.
Predators go after young ones because they’re an easy meal. We’re often told that these animals don’t necessarily love the taste of human, but hunting and killing prey is natural for them. Being spoon-fed raw meat everyday is probably nice to a degree, but the urge to hunt will always be there. If this lion was in the wild, it may not have gone after the kid. But without the ability to hunt, it probably wants to kill every child who tries to take a picture in front of it.
12. Scared Of Llamas
This video, while hilarious, still proves that not all kids are into animals. This family was at one of those drive-through zoo exhibits, where the animals come up to your car and interact with you. Thankfully, it wasn’t one of those videos with a lion opening the door and possibly/probably eating everyone inside.
This boy’s brother seemed to love feeding the llamas, but this was a truly traumatizing event for the boy pictured above. That is the face of a kid who already hates his family well before puberty. His parents got a good laugh out of it, which is nice for them. But they obviously aren’t thinking about the years of llama-related therapy that are undoubtedly on the horizon for their son.
11. Gorilla Breaks Glass And Shows Who’s Boss
This video went semi-viral when it was released in 2015, and it shows a gorilla charging at the window, breaking the first layer of glass between it and the spectators.
In the video, a girl can be seen pounding her chest in the reflection of the glass. It’s not clear if this was the final straw that set the gorilla off, but it came charging at the glass with so much force that it broke the first layer.
As soon as the glass broke, pretty much everyone decided it was time to leave. Even the children, who sometimes need an explanation, can be seen turning to leave as the collective feeling of “Welp, that’s it!” can be felt through the camera. They were still probably safe behind the glass, but no one was sticking around to find out for sure.
10. Rhino Escape
An animal escaping captivity is an age-old zoo cautionary tale, and it was on display in an Israeli zoo in 2015. A family of three rhinos was able to escape their confinement as a careless security guard slept on the job.
The door was left open for visitors, but the snoozing security guard didn’t see the three Rhinos scamper past her until it was too late. They were eventually tracked down, but they could have done a substantial amount of damage to both the zoo visitors and the public.
While any age of human would be hard-pressed to stand up to a rhino, children would be the most vulnerable. If an unsupervised child was in the path of one of these animals, this situation would have ended tragically.
9. Pittsburgh Zoo Mauling
While none of this tragedy was caught on tape (fortunately), this news report should serve as evidence that parents should use extreme caution when bringing children to the zoo.
In 2012, a mother and her son were looking at the painted dog exhibit, when the young boy’s mother propped him on the railing for a better look. What happened next was a parent’s worst nightmare, as the two-year-old child lost his balance and fell into the pit.
Authorities confirmed that it wasn’t the fall that killed the boy, as he was still alive after hitting the mesh barrier and falling into the pit. What killed him was the painted dogs he was viewing. His mother was forced to watch in horror as the dogs mauled and killed her young son.
8. Child Falls Into Gorilla Pit
Not every animal and child encountering ends up in tragedy, as this gorilla proved that sympathy and compassion is a universal trait in nature.
Just like too many other cases on this list, this boy’s parents were carelessly letting their child stand on the top of the gorilla enclosure. He fell hard on the concrete and a grown silverback gorilla came right up to him.
Instead of the unthinkable happening, the gorilla seemed to check on the boy, knowing he was hurt. He even appeared to shield the young boy from the other gorillas in the pen, putting its body in between them and the child. When the boy came to his senses, the gorilla left him, seemingly understanding that he would be rescued by humans shortly.
7. Scary Giraffe
This is an important photo for this little boy, as it will surely document the origin of his lifelong irrational fear of giraffes. A giraffe’s tongue is like an animal itself. It’s long and foreign and this boy wanted nothing to do with it. His dad wanted him to feed the giraffe, but he just started to cry and held on for dear life. Even his father seemed a bit grossed out by the massive tongue on that thing.
While this isn’t the most dangerous photo on this list, it still serves as a reminder that kids don’t always love animals. There are some cute creatures like otters and beavers, but a giraffe that’s is either a hit or a miss. Some kids will probably like it, but I’m sure there are many more just like this boy, who just wants to go home and look at pictures rather than get licked by some weird giraffe tongue.
6. Polar Bear Attack
This is yet another case of a predator thinking a baby was its lunch. Parents seem to constantly be placing their kids in front of carnivorous animals’ cages. It’s as if they want to experience the sensation of watching their child get mauled by a wild animal in front of them, with none of the consequences of letting it actually happen.
The craziest thing is that this kid is too young to even know what he wants. A kid a little older could request to see the animals closer, but these parents just assumed he wanted to see what the inside of that polar bear’s mouth looked like. He’s not even going to remember this experience. That poor bear just had some juicy prey dangled in front of it for no reason whatsoever.
5. Mooning Monkey
It looks like this monkey has had enough of the ogling of toddlers for one lifetime.
This video shows a father and daughter looking at a monkey close to the glass. The father reaches out to point at the monkey, to which the monkey responds by putting its a*s on the glass and shrieking at the father and daughter watching them.
Of course, this picture and video are more funny than scary, but it shows that many animals don’t like being subjected to this type of attention. Sure, it can be innocent fun in most cases, but this monkey may have gotten physical had the glass not been there. There’s also the angle that you can never tell what these monkeys will do. They are smarter than most animals, and much of what they get up to is not suitable for young eyes.
4. Gorilla Photobomb
This class of youngsters got quite the surprise when a gorilla smashed the glass while they were trying to take a photo. It looks like the gorilla was sick of all the photography going on around his pen, and lashed out at the young students who were to be the subject of the photo.
Apart from the kids being scared half-to-death by the giant gorilla lunging at them, it looks like the person who was supposed to be taking a photo was taking a video. Everyone was looking at the camera as if a still shot was about to be taken only to find out that the whole thing was being filmed.
3. Hungry Lion Wants A Baby For Lunch
It’s all fun and games until these lions break out and kill everything in sight.
It’s usually thought of as cute or funny when a lion is trying to eat a baby from behind the glass. Sure, the kid may not know any better, but the parents do. The glass is supposed to be secure, but everything is secure…until it’s not.
Parading kids around in front of trained killers may not be the best idea. This lion didn’t really seem to grasp the concept of glass, but it certainly knew that it wanted to eat that little boy. Just remember this when you take your kids to the zoo: cute animals may play with your child and make for a great moment. All predators are thinking about is how they can escape and eat them.
2. Child Falls In Jaguar Pit
This is another instance that is described in a news story, but wasn’t caught on camera. Much like the previous story of a child being mauled to death by wild dogs, this is a cautionary tale of being careful with your children around wild animals.
For some reason, people seem to think that it’s a decent idea to let their kid stand on the railing to get a better view. Sure, they are going to remember the jaguars for a few days, but that’s not worth the downfall of what could happen.
This young boy fell into the pit, fracturing his skull. Witnesses said that the jaguars quickly surrounded him, one grabbing his shirt and the other his foot. Fortunately, zookeepers were quick to respond. They detracted the animals with fire extinguisher until authorities were able to remove the child. Thankfully, he survived his injuries and wasn’t mauled by the jaguars.
I’m not sure if there is any official outlet that votes on these things, but Harambe was certainly the meme of the year for 2016. Even those who never saw the video of the Harambe incident knew a version of what happened. But being on the scene must have been terrifying.
There was a hot debate at the time whether or not Harambe was acting heroically or not. The camp with the popular support was that he didn’t deserve to die, but it must have been hard to make that call in the moment. After all, a kid’s life was in hanging in the balance, and watching a gorilla rag doll him like that could not have given anyone any sense of hope.
Regardless of the gorilla’s intentions, nobody wants to see this happen to their kid. If you do take your kid to the zoo, make sure that there is no chance for anything like this to ever happen. Gorillas have been historically tame when these things happen, but the same cannot be said for other animals.