A California woman had a close encounter with a giraffe at a Wisconsin zoo — actually, a too-close encounter, authorities said.
Madison police cited Amanda Hall, 24, of San Luis Obispo, on suspicion of harassment of zoo animals after officials said she crossed a barrier to get near the pen of a 2-year-old giraffe named Wally at the Henry Villas Zoo in Madison on Saturday afternoon. The citation carries a $686 fine, according to police.
Hall got so close to the 12-foot-tall giraffe that it was able to lick her, police said. So far, so good. But then Wally turned his back and kicked her in the face.
Hall needed at least 10 stitches below her lip afterward, she told the Los Angeles Times.
But there are two versions of how Hall, who was visiting friends in Madison, was able to get so close.
Police said she climbed over one fence and was partially through a second fence when the giraffe injured her.
Hall disputed the allegations in an interview with The Times. Instead, she said, she easily stepped over a 3-foot-high gate-like barrier and did not climb the second fence. She said the giraffe put its head through a gap in the fence and ate some grass out of her hand.
"He had some grass and nuzzled my head," Hall said. "He licked me and then I got a kick to the chin. It was a shock."
She plans to dispute the citation.
Hall said she grew up with animals like horses and cattle, and stressed that she doesn't fault the zoo or the giraffe. Nobody is to blame for what happened, she said.
"I was not trying to harm the giraffe. I just don't think it's fair," she said, referring to the citation.
"I got hit in the face by a giraffe. I had to deal with all that. That was a lot of pain to deal with already. I don't need a fine and this on my record. I don't 'harass' zoo animals. I'm an animal lover."
Hall, who planned to return to California on Monday, said she'd like to apologize to the zoo for "stepping over the line."
Zoo officials told police that Hall was lucky not to have been seriously injured since giraffes are capable of killing lions.
"Obviously I won't do it again," she said. The barricade is "there for a reason. I just didn't think twice about it. I just didn't think it was a big deal."