The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has become involved after a video of a zoo visitor entering an animal enclosure at the Los Angeles Zoo and cruelly slapping a hippo went viral on social media last week.
In the video, a man can be seen climbing into the enclosure and spanking the rear end of a hippo, before fleeing. The hippo, which has been identified as Rosie, and Rosie’s mother Mara flinch and appear startled by the slap.
The culprit quickly jumps back over the enclosure fence and can be seen raising his arms, appearing as though he felt victorious for pulling off the cruel act. The woman who was recording the incident from the other side of the enclosure can be heard laughing as she comments, “omg, he just slapped the hippo’s a**.”
The video began trending online last week, with comedy-themed social media pages like ‘Some To Laugh At’ appearing to praise the man for being bold enough to spank the hippo and appearing to challenge others to follow suit if they dare:
— SomethingToLaughAt (@SomeToLaughAt) August 7, 2018
According to the Los Angeles Times, the zoo was unaware of the incident until it was alerted to the trending video. The zoo has since installed a “No Trespassing” sign on the hippo exhibit. Zoo representative April Spurlock added:
“Any unauthorized interaction with an animal is unsafe for the animal and potentially unsafe for the patron. It is never appropriate for anyone to attempt to have contact or interaction with any animal outside of our staff-led animal experiences.”
An LAPD spokesman revealed that while the incident will not be investigated as an animal cruelty case since the hippo was not injured, the incident is being investigated as a trespassing case and the culprit may face a misdemeanor or infraction since entering zoo reportedly prohibited by California state law.