Young boy climbs into bison enclosure at Wildlife Safari Park

Published: Jul. 16, 2019 at 7:15 AM CDT
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Cass County 911 described the call from park officials in Ashland, Nebraska, as "very frantic."

A 9-year-old climbed into the bison enclosure at the Wildlife Safari Park. What happens next is a race against time to find the boy who ran from a field trip.

On Friday – just before 5 p.m. – the child with special needs scaled the fence and entered an area where the bison live. Some of them weigh 2,000lbs and can run up to 40mph. The fear was he could get trampled.

From the time of the 911 call to when the Cass County Sheriff's deputy wearing a body camera spotted the boy, he had been on the wrong side of the fence for a half-hour.

“Hey, stop. What's going on man? Come over here," the deputy is heard on his body camera.

Investigators had a lot of ground to cover. There are 23 bison spread across 40-acres at the Wildlife Safari Park. 440-acres make up the entire property.

The 9-year-old was in an area used by bison for grazing. Only later did investigators learn the animals were inside another fence at this time. However, he had just climbed a 7-foot fence.

“He had scaled that fence and gotten into the bison enclosure and when he was contacted by the deputy,” said Lt Larry Burke with the Cass County Sheriff’s office. “He was within feet of another fence to go into another enclosure.”

Rescuing someone from bison isn’t something covered in law enforcement training.

The four Cass County deputies, Nebraska state trooper and park rangers had to quickly understand the environment – and how to approach the child and any animals.

At one point during the chase – they lost him.

“It’s such a large area,” said Lt Burke, “And once he got into the foliage of the trees, they lost total contact with him of where exactly did he go.”

Finally – as the video shows the deputy sprinting across the prairie -- he caught up to the child with special needs.

“It’s dangerous out here buddy,” said the deputy. “We have to get out.”

He spent the long walk back to the cruiser trying to calmly explain the danger.

“There are big animals out here. It’s dangerous.”

The child was not injured and was returned to his guardian.

The Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland team tells 6 News this is the first time such an incident has happened there -- that a child got into an enclosure.