A 7-year-old girl died Tuesday from injuries she suffered when an elephant threw a stone out of its enclosure and struck her on the head at Rabat Zoo in Morocco.
Cellphone video taken moments after the incident shows the rock that allegedly hit the girl and a group of bystanders huddled near her, tending to her injuries while waiting for an ambulance. (The video, uploaded to YouTube, is graphic and should be viewed with caution.)
After being taken to the hospital, the unidentified girl died a few hours later, the zoo said.
The zoo offered its condolences to the family of the deceased girl and said that "this kind of incident is rare, unpredictable and strange." The statement, written in French, added that similar types of incidents have happened recently in the United States, such as in Disney World Orlando and the Cincinnati Zoo, a reference to the 2-year-old boy who died after an alligator attack in June and when a 3-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure in May.
C'est avec beaucoup de tristresse que le zoo de Rabat annonce le décès accidentel d'une petite fille victime d'un jet de pierre (1/2)
— Rabatzoo (@Rabatzoo) July 27, 2016
But some social media users have criticized the way the zoo handled the case, according to Morocco World News, arguing that it took far too long for the ambulance to arrive and that there should have been an ambulance station already at the zoo.
"It can happen when elephants are frustrated or bored," Phyllis Lee, scientific director of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants told the BBC. "In my opinion, it's unlikely the elephant was directly targeting the girl — but exhibiting frustration. You can't predict what animals in captivity will do."