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article imageToddler survives fall into cheetah enclosure, mom charged

By Megan Hamilton     Apr 15, 2015 in Crime
Cleveland - A woman has been charged with child endangerment after her two-year-old son fell into a cheetah enclosure when she allegedly dangled him over the enclosure, authorities say.
The incident occurred at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on Sunday afternoon.
Michelle Schwab, 38, faces the misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail. She also faces a possible $1,000 fine, The Washington Post reports. The charge was filed in the Cleveland Municipal Court on Monday and she will be arraigned April 22.
Fortunately the big cats didn't approach the toddler, who apparently broke his left leg in the fall, according to court documents, the Post reported.
"The cheetahs made no attempt to interact with the child and parents at any time," Cleveland Metroparks Zoo executive director Christopher Kuhar said in a statement, according to The Toronto Sun.
"I think they were just curious as to what was going on and why somebody was in the pen with them because it's not every day that somebody is just in the pen with them," Terra Lurie, a zoo visitor told a local TV station, the Post reports. "And everyone else is screaming and they probably got scared."
Zoo officials reported that the boy's parents climbed into the exhibit and got him out, The Independent reports.
"You could just hear the screams and all you could see was the adult that jumped in got the kid," Michael Lurie, who was visiting the zoo and witnessed the incident, told a news station, per The Independent. "Then somebody pulled him out."
Sanaa Julien, a spokeswoman for Metroparks Zoo said the boy's mother was holding him over an observation wall that abutted the enclosure when she dropped him, The Toronto Sun reported.
"While this incident is disturbing to everyone, we are glad injuries were not any more severe," Kuhar said in the statement, per the Post. "We have a number of eyewitness accounts that indicate the child was held over the railing and then dropped."
Schwab works as a childcare worker for KinderCare, Cleveland.com reports. On Monday, the corporate office said that Schwab is an assistant director for one of the provider's centers in Columbus.
"[Schwab] is currently home with her family and will remain out of our center while this issue is investigated and addressed," said KinderCare spokeswoman Colleen Moran in an email. "In addition to the agencies looking into the issue, we are looking into the incident further ourselves, as we closely examine issues involving the treatment of children by our employees, even if those incidents arise outside of our centers."
The enclosure, which houses the two male cheetahs, was closed for the remainder of the day, Julien said.
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