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Giraffe hoists 2-year-old into the air at drive-thru safari park: “My heart stopped”

A Texas family went through a heart-dropping scare at a drive-thru safari park earlier this month when a giraffe reached into their pickup truck and grabbed their 2-year-old daughter, hoisting her in the air. 

The incident happened at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas, where visitors drive through a trail with animals like cheetahs, emus, zebras and wildebeests, with the opportunity to feed them from their cars.

“We stopped to feed the giraffes and I turned around to look out the back window,” Jason Toten told CBS affiliate KWTX. “That’s when I saw the giraffe kind of digging around, and then it just grabbed her.”

The giraffe grabbed his 2-year-old daughter, Paisley, by her shirt from the back of their pickup. The giraffe hoisted her a few feet in the air and her mom, who was in the pickup bed with her, shouted at the giraffe, prompting the animal to let go. 

The incident was captured on camera by the people in the car behind them, who sent it to the family. 

Toten said it appeared to be an accident and that the family didn’t break park rules, which include keeping car doors closed, feeding animals with cups — not your hands — and keeping 50 feet away from gates.

“Paisley was holding the bag and the giraffe went to go get the bag, not get her, but ended up getting her shirt too and picking her up,” he said. 

“My heart stopped, my stomach dropped… it scared me,” he said.

The incident didn’t deter the family — Toten said they’d visit again. And Paisley got a stuffed giraffe from the souvenir shop after the rough ride.