A young boy has been pictured standing inside a rhino enclosure at a zoo in Ireland's capital, just metres from the giant animal.

A horrified onlooker said a male relative lifted the boy into the pen at Dublin Zoo on Saturday, and forced him to move closer to the rhino. He was standing in the enclosure for at least 20 minutes.

"It was such a stupid thing to do. He was only metres away from the rhinos. People were totally horrified," a witness told The Irish Mirror. "The child was with a male relative who was getting him to pose for photos and trying to make the child go further in."

Another told the Irish Daily Mail: "I didn't know the people. I only saw the man putting the child in the fence. The child didn't look scared and nobody really passed any heed on what he was doing."


Pictures of the bizarre incident show the youngster standing on large boulders which act as an additional barricade several metres above the ground.

Architect Ciaran Ferrie shared two pictures on Twitter, one of them showing an adult taking pictures of the young boy.

"Just a child inside the rhino enclosure at @dublinzoo," Mr Ferrie wrote.

Another photo tweeted by Adrianna Straszewska showed the youngster standing on the wrong side of the fence and a man holding his hand from the viewing side.

The boy, who has not been identified, was reportedly with three adults.

A spokeswoman for the zoo said the incident was being reviewed internally. It is understood the health and safety standards around the African Savanna enclosure for the zoo's southern white rhinos are being examined.

Dublin Zoo has experienced a number of incidents involving its animals down the years, including a teenager from Belfast who was attacked by an Amur tiger in 2006 after scaling two fences and reaching her arm in through a third fence.

In 2010 a penguin was stolen in a suspected prank, and in 2008 an orang-utan escaped from its enclosure while a school tour was walking by.

The news comes after Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, was shot dead at Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio when a boy tumbled into his enclosure in May.