09/08/2013 07:10 BST | Updated 09/08/2013 07:25 BST

Tapir Mauls Toddler & Her Mother At Dublin Zoo

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A toddler and her mother are recovering in hospital after being mauled in a zoo by a Brazilian tapir.

The two-year-old girl was attacked during a supervised visit within one of the enclosures at Dublin Zoo.

The infant’s mother was also injured as she went to save her child.


Tapirs are docile but have strong jaws and sharp teeth (file picture)

Dublin Zoo has described the incident as "an unfortunate accident" and said an investigation is under way.

It is understood the little girl has undergone surgery after suffering deep abdomen and arm injuries by the usually docile creature, which looks like an anteater and is a similar size to a pig.

In June, staff at Dublin Zoo celebrated the birth of a tapir to mother Rio, which is believed to have attacked the child.

Related to rhinos and horses, tapirs have a long, flexible snout that helps collect leaves, shoots, fruit and small branches to eat.

While said to be docile, they have strong jaws and sharp teeth which they use to defend themselves if under threat.

Some media outlets are reporting the animal may have panicked after the little girl gave out a shriek of delight.