The woman who was cited by police after they say she climbed into a giraffe exhibit at a Madison, Wisconsin, zoo – then was licked and kicked in the face by the animal – plans to fight the ticket.
Amanda Hall, 24, of San Luis Obispo, California, was visiting the Henry Vilas Zoo Saturday when she climbed over one fence and was partially through a second fence that surrounds the giraffe exhibit when Wally – a 2-year-old, 12-foot-tall giraffe – licked Hall’s face, then turned and kicked her in the face, according to a police report.
"When she kind of tried to enter the yard with him, which is like I said something that we don't do, that's a very different situation, one that he's not used to and not accustomed to, so that probably frightened him," Deputy Zoo Director Jeff Halter told KFBK.
She was cited for harassment of zoo animals, which carries a $686 fine. But Hall says that's not the entire story, and she plans to fight the ticket.
“I got hit in the face by a giraffe. I had to deal with all that. That was a lot of pain to deal with already. I don’t need a fine and this on my record. I don’t 'harass' zoo animals. I’m an animal lover," Hall told the Los Angeles Times.
Hall said she "easily stepped over a 3-foot-high gate-like barrier" and didn't climb the second fence, when Wally stuck his head through a gap in the fence and ate some grass out of her hand, then "He licked me and then I got a kick to the chin. It was a shock," Hall told the newspaper.
Police said zoo officials told them Hall was lucky not to have been more seriously injured. Hall told the Los Angeles Times she had to have 10 stitches.
Hall says she wasn't trying to harm the giraffe and doesn't think the ticket is fair. Police told WISN they're standing by their decision to give her a citation.
"There needs to be a line drawn in the sand, so to speak, in this case, at the giraffe exhibit. You just can't go as close as she did," Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain told the news station.
Police said Hall told them she climbed into the enclosure because "she loves giraffes."
"Any time you cross a barrier, you cross a line. You're creating a situation where you can potentially harm the animal you say you care about," Halter told WISN.
Wally, along with 5-year-old Eddie, came to the zoo last spring after Henry Vilas Zoo’s previous giraffes (on loan from the Minnesota Zoo) were returned, according to a news release.
This isn't the first time the Henry Vilas Zoo has made headlines. In June 1966, an elephant named Winkie pulled a 3-year-old girl through the bars of the exhibit and stomped her to death after she tried to offer the elephant popcorn, the Associated Press reports.
Several years later, officials say another elephant at the zoo hurt several staffers and visitors. The elephant was transferred to a different zoo, where the AP says she "stepped on or kicked" a woman handler, who was killed "on the spot" in 2006.