A California man has been sentenced to four years of probation for taking his daughter inside an elephant enclosure.
Jose Manuel Navarrete, 25, pled guilty to felony charges of endangerment of a child before a San Diego Court on Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reported. He was also sentenced to nine months in prison but was credited with time served.
In March 2021, Navarrete took his then-two-year-old daughter inside an elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo to take a selfie with the animals behind them. When the elephant noticed he had entered the fenced area, it charged at him.
At one point while trying to escape, Navarrete dropped his daughter before picking her up, climbing outside the fence and narrowingly escaping. Fortunately, the child was not injured. Navarrete, who was also uninjured, was later arrested.
“He is remorseful and knows he endangered his daughter,” Navarrete’s attorney, Onell Soto, told McClatchy News.
Navarrete has also been ordered to take parenting classes and stay away from the zoo and his daughter, Fox News reported.
Witnesses of the incident said at the time that Navarrete got into the closure to take a picture with his daughter.
“You hear this woman yelling, ‘Jose, stop. Jose, stop!’” Lori Ortale, who was at the zoo when the ordeal took place, told Fox at the time. “And he jumps the fence and then he goes through the elephant enclosure, and he’s got his little girl with him who, I don’t know, had to be under 2.”
During his sentencing on Thursday, the judge reminded Navarrete that he had put his daughter in great danger.
“I’m not convinced that you’re going [abide by the terms of] probation, given your interview,” the judge said. “You indicated you were the victim. Rest assured, you were not the victim, it was your daughter.”