Toddler Plucked Up By Giraffe At Drive Thru Safari

A Texas family’s drive-thru safari adventure took an unexpected turn when their toddler had a close encounter with a giraffe. Jason Toten, 24, his fiancé Sierra Robert, 23, and their children were visiting the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose for a wildlife tour when the incident occurred.

The family was enjoying a day out, feeding animals from their truck as allowed by the safari park. Everything was going smoothly until a curious giraffe approached their vehicle, taking a particular interest in their two-year-old daughter, Paisley. The family encouraged Paisley to feed the giraffe, but things quickly went awry when the giraffe accidentally grabbed Paisley’s shirt with its teeth, lifting her into the air.

A video taken by the occupants of the car behind captured the tense moment. Sierra acted quickly, grabbing Paisley as she was lifted by the giraffe. “I looked out the back window and I saw the giraffe … and then up she went,” Jason said. “My heart stopped, it scared the hell out of me.”

Fortunately, Sierra’s quick reaction and a stern “hey” prompted the giraffe to release Paisley, dropping her back into the truck uninjured. Despite the frightening incident, Paisley was remarkably unfazed. “She wasn’t even scared,” Jason noted. “As soon as her mom caught her, she went ‘oh.'”

After the ordeal, the family took Paisley to the gift shop where she picked out a plush giraffe and a giraffe T-shirt as souvenirs. “We figured she deserved it,” Jason said, acknowledging that the giraffe had merely intended to grab the food bag Paisley was holding, not her shirt.

The incident has not deterred the family from returning to Fossil Rim in the future, although it has led to changes at the park. On Wednesday, Fossil Rim announced a new policy prohibiting guests from riding in the bed of pickup trucks, a direct response to the viral video of Paisley’s encounter.

In the aftermath, Sierra faced backlash online, with some critics calling her a “bad mom” for allowing Paisley to ride in the back of the truck. Sierra defended herself on Facebook, pointing out that risks are present everywhere, whether at a park with snakes or on a drive where accidents can happen. “There are always dangers in the world, no matter where you go, or what you do,” she wrote. “I refuse to teach my child to be afraid of her own shadow.”

Sierra emphasized that she does not blame the park or the giraffe for what happened and stands by her decision to let her child experience the world. She also noted that riding in the back of a truck was a common part of her own upbringing and remains a popular practice for many families.

Despite the scare, the family walked away from the incident with a memorable story and a determination not to let fear dictate their adventures. Their experience serves as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of wildlife interactions and the importance of safety measures in such environments.


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