Toddler’s Airborne Encounter with Giraffe Sparks Safety Overhaul at Texas Wildlife Center


In the quaint town of Glen Rose, Texas, a family outing took an unexpected turn to intrigue and drama when a giraffe at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center brought a toddler’s excursion dangerously close to the skies. Little Paisley Toten, aged only two, encountered a taste of real-life airborne adventure on June 1 all thanks to a curious giraffe.

The incident unravelled as Paisley was riding in the bed of a pickup truck. Her family, taking the full enjoyment of their safari visit, drove into the heart of the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. The center, known for its diverse range of exotic animals such as zebras, giraffes, and sable antelope, allowed visitors the unique pleasure of feeding some of these four-legged inhabitants from their vehicles.

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During the course of their visit, the Totens took a pause to feed a towering giraffe, but the towering creature wasn’t just interested in the food they offered. In a surprising turn of events, the giraffe seized the tot’s shirt in its mouth and lifted her several feet off the ground. The co-passenger and Paisley’s mother, seated in the same pickup bed, let out a sharp shout which caused the giraffe to gently drop the toddler back into her mother’s arms, incidentally leaving Paisley unhurt.

A riveting video of the electrifying moment, captured by the occupants of the trailing car became a viral sensation. “Paisley, was clenching the food bag, and in an attempt to retrieve it, the giraffe got her shirt as well, subsequently lifting her off the ground,” explained the father, Jason Toten, to KWTX television station. He further recounted the incident by saying, “My heart stopped, my stomach dropped … it scared me.”

Post the adrenaline-laced experience, the family proceeded to the souvenir shop and gifted Paisley a toy giraffe, possibly to commemorate her remarkable encounter with the giant.

At the time of this incident, the park rules permitted visitors to ride in the open bed of a pickup truck, on the condition that an adult accompanied the children. However, the nature of this occurrence rapidly prompted an immediate amendment to the safety protocols by the park authorities. On the Thursday following the incident, the park management stipulated a revised rule that now requires all visitors to stay inside their vehicles with the doors sealed, hence refining the balance between thrilling encounters and visitor safety.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.