Pony kicks girl at Niabi Zoo, grandmother catches it all on camera

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A pony kicked a three-year-old girl at Niabi Zoo on Saturday when she walked over and tried to pet it after the ride was over.

Patty Ramirez videotaped the incident on her cell phone when her granddaughter, Sadie, got kicked. Ramirez said Sadie is okay, but she's not happy with the way the zoo attendants handled the situation.

"You don't set a two- and a three-year-old down and just walk away when there's a big animal standing next to them," said Patty Ramirez, Sadie's grandmother. "They have to have more responsibility, they have to have better training."

Niabi Zoo Director, Mark Heinzman, said the zoo regrets that the incident happened, but families need to remember that animals are unpredictable.

"As with any animal, there's some inherent risk you have to pay attention to, just because they are animals," Heinzman said.

Heinzman also said there is a sign posted outside the pony rides reminding families they are responsible for their own children's safety.

Ramirez said the family just wants better training for the zoo attendants.


  • Getittogether

    It looks like if maybe grandma would have put her phone down…….she could have walked over, instead of yelling

    • Allison

      Grandma couldn’t walk over they don’t let anyone inside pony area. How about the employee should of moved the children away from ponies?

      • Eric

        They absolutely let people in the pony area. We’ve never once let our kids ride the ponies and NOT been inside walking around with them and taking them down ourselves.

      • Jessi

        Oh yes they do let people in the pony ride area i walk with my son all the time and so do parents of children younger then him

  • Alison

    There is no way Grandma could have jumped the fence and prevented what happened. Anyone watching the video can see the pony lining up a kick. If the zoo attendants are so well trained then they would have seen it. Obviously setting toddlers down and walking away doesn’t work.

    • OMG

      If grandma would have not been so worried about the camera and watched her own grandkids this would have not happened. Ever been to the zoo Alison they do not lock you out of the ponys. THey recommend highly you accompany your child during the ride.

      • Alison

        I didn’t say they don’t let ppl in with the ponys. These are animals and small children shouldn’t just be set down next to them. There’s no arguing that fact. The zoo needs more staffing or they need to communicate better with the parents as to what happens when the ride ends. Yes I’ve been to the zoo, but my kids havnt riden the ponys. They did a few yrs back at small town fun fest, and the ppl in charge made sure we knew what to do with our kids during AND after the ride.

    • Jessi

      Number one it is not the attendents responsibility to attend to the children it is the parents and there is a sign posted that states that right on the fencing of the pony ride..and for anyone else who wants to assume they lock the parents out and dont let them walk with their children should take themselves and attend niabi zoo at the pony ride and see how you get oh so proven wrong. i have taken my son 3-4 times a month since he was 1 and he is now 6 and has rode the ponies everytime we go

  • jessica

    How dare he!!!
    They lock parents out of the pony arena. And please tell me what is the purpose of the attendants??!?!! It is common sense not to put a child down and walk away leaving them behind a horse!!! What a jerk

    • Colleen

      I walked my son around while he was on the pony. You can go in with your kid if you chose. But people are so obsessed with getting the perfect video or picture they forget to do what NEEDS to be done. Put it down and get your kid. If she wasn’t looking through a lenses she could’ve seen more clearly and alerted the staff of the turning pony. This is why we can text and drive cause we can’t focus on the whole picture. Js

  • shelly

    He didn’t take any responsibility for what happened. Even when Sadie was kicked neither employee went up to her. shame on them! The one’s doing pony rides should be watching better and escort the kids out. Especially when the parents can’t get in! Very disappointed Niabi Zoo!

  • Cathy

    I was at the zoo with my sister and her children Saturday. I walked beside my 4 year old niece during the entire ride to make sure she didn’t fall off and I saw other parents do it too. They DO NOT LOCK THE PARENTS OUT OF THE PONY RIDE! There is a sign that says small children should have an adult escort for pete’s sake.

  • MC

    The zoo absolutely does not lock parents out of the pony ride. I walk beside my child every time. I can’t believe any responsible parent would not want to assist their child during a pony ride or any ride for that matter. If anything, the zoo should require that parents walk along side with their child. It is not the attendants responsibility to watch your child, it is yours.

  • MC

    I hear that the video has been posted to Facebook and many people are encouraging the grandma to sue. That really makes me sad that people are so ‘sue happy’ these days. Fortunately, the zoo is covered since there are postings that state that you enter the petting zoo and pony ride area at your own risk and you are responsible for your children.

  • Judy Kitchen Johannsen

    This is inexcusable. The kids should have been dismounted one at a time next to the gate where the parents could retrieve them to insure safety. I find the zoo’s response to be very uncaring. A sign will not keep kids safe. The pony could have killed that child. This really should be a wakeup call to the Zoo board.

    • ted1234567

      Judy, go take a walk off a high cliff and do the human gene pool a favor. Too bad I can’t push you.

    • robin road

      Great – it’s people like you, Judy, that ruin this for everyone else. How the heck did this nation manage to survive so long with this kind of nanny thinking? Ignorance by the parent, or grandma, doesn’t change their responsibility. If they had a “ride the tame lion” would you let your kid ride the nice kitty without extreme caution? Of course not. The only difference here is that people now think ponies are completely harmless like a cartoon character and kids haven’t been taught any kind of animal safety. My daughter at 3yrs old knew not to approach a horse, especially from behind, and I’ve never left my eye off of her or stayed very nearby even on well trained animals.

  • Cathy

    The signs are there for the parents to read. These children should have had a parent or other adult walking next to the pony with them during the ride. That is not the zoo’s responsibility and that’s what the signs say. I always walked next to my children on these pony rides.

  • Pj Baker

    The first pony my Father bought me was a Shetland pony from one of these rides. As long as she could see him, no matter how far away, she was a perfect and gentle pony. The second he was out of sight, she would buck me off. You have to realize these rides are not exactly a perfect life for a pony. In a way, it is a sort of animal abuse as they are expected to perform day after day, hooked up to a machine and walk around in a circle all day with all types of children riding on their backs. Some children kicking the ponies in the ribs, screaming, crying. Ponies are an unpredictable animal and are only faithful to their trainers or the ones they bond with. Parents need to take responsibility. I have always went in and while my children were placed on the ponies and there to help them walk away. Small children should not be allowed to walk around in back on any horse!

  • SE

    I am in awe of this whole situation. First and foremost, I hope the little girl is ok. Why were you not standing beside your child? Protect your children!! I walk beside my child every time we ride the ponies and the carousel. I have never once been told that I could not do this. I am sickened that the word sue was even brought up. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful zoo so close by. Take care of your kids people, they are your responsibility!!!

  • angry parent

    If grandma would have put her dang camera down and took care of her grandkids. I was there I watched the whole thing grandma hollered at the little girl to stand beside the pony so she could take a picture. Not the employees fault it was grandma. she just wanted T.V. time. Shame of channel 8 for not investigating the other side of the story.

  • ln

    It is a no win situation, yes the child’s guardian should have been walking beside them, the grandmother said you don’t put a 3 and 4 year old down and walk away, you also don’t let a 3 and 4 year ride without a guardian walking next to them. If the attendant would have grab the child and pulled her away, they could have said it was to rough, parents and grandparents it is your job to watch over your children, it is zoo’s job to watch over their animals. I am sorry Sadie had to experience this and glad she is not scared to ride again, lets hope grandma and or mom will walk with her next time, a learning experience for everyone.

  • OMG!!!!

    This is a complete joke. Grandma just wants T.V. time I witnessed the attendant clean the little girl up. So don’t tell me no one helped the little girl. If grandma would have got off her phone and was not so worried about the dang pictures none of this would have happed. Investigation should have happened before this even was put on the news. Channel 8 has always been a leader in news but this is repulsive.

  • TLF

    How on earth this became a news story, I have no idea. Any body who has been around ANY kind of animal knows that this can happen. There is equal responsibility on both sides (the handler and the guardian). However, I think the way the grandparent responded shows a lack of maturity. Read the comments on the video…touts to “SUE the Zoo!” and calling the handler a “stupid B**ch”, really are unnecessary to achieve what ever their goal is here. An unfortunate incident and thankfully the child was unharmed.

  • TmT

    I have walked with my child numerous times at Niabi Zoo on the pony rides. I WAS NOT LOCKED OUT, I was thanked for walking with my child. This woman clearly does not have her fact straight. Shame on her, and Channel 8 for not getting all the fact straight. With the crisis the world is in and this makes a news story good god!!!! Thank you channel 8 for making it clear that you are slipping in your ratings and grasping at news stories such as this.

  • jason

    Maybe the kids should’ve walked over to grandma to leave since the ride was over instead of walking back up to the ponies..

  • Ginny

    the worker should have walked behind the kids to get them away from the animal, yes. But it is not their responsibility to control your child around big animals. the child should know not to walk back up to the horse to begin with since you can clearly see the horse didn’t like it which is why it kicked. The horse had no where to go and was basically backed into a corner and the only way to get away was to kick the child. I have been around horses all my life and that is the first lesson you learn is to respect their space. Yes, I feel bad for the child, but the problem is the grandmother should have been watching the child around the horse or at least educated the child to the problems that could happen. They are animals, plain and simple! Educate your kids or walk with them.

  • moiraesfate

    Here’s an idea… how about being a parent and NOT letting your child get close enough to the animal that she gets kicked instead of thinking that someone else will do your job for you? I know.. shocking idea isn’t it.

  • Dani

    How abou the kid not walk behind the pony? Duh!! Most people commenting think the same thing either the kids fault or grandmas fault….. weird.

  • stevedave

    only one person commented about being thankful that the little girl is alright? unbelievable. yea that seems pretty reasonable… she wanted to be on TV so bad that she set up a scenario to have her granddaughter kicked by a pony. some of you people that have nothing better to do then make assumptions and judge others disgust me and you should be more worried about how stupid your comment makes you look then what grandma could or couldn’t have done. most important thing is that the little girl is ok. now for all the behind the screen judgers grow up and have a little more respect for others and empathy for a situation like this.

    • Ginny

      I’m thankful the child is ok and I feel bad for the situation, but the grandparent should have been there or the child properly understanding that it is dangerous to go right up to a big animal like that without an adult. I have been bucked, kicked, and thrown from horses so I do know about the situation, but thankfully no damage so I do know that education in this is important. If it wasn’t a “warning kick” as we call this one it could have turned deadly. Praying the child has no permanent damage in the long run, but hopefully someone will educate the parents/ grandparents and the staff actually play closer attention to the children. For those who say children do not understand at that age.. yes they do if they are taught early enough. It is just like teaching a child not to walk up to strange dogs.

    • ted1234567

      Stevedave you are an idiot. People like you should be dragged in the street and cleaved in twain. People like you blame everyone else for your lack of cognitive ability. You are a waste of space and resources, do us a favor, find a speeding truck and step in front of it.

  • j

    It’s an animal, as someone who grew up with horses, If I had a small child I would not let them ride a pony on a pony ride by themselves if I had the options to walk with especially that small. Next thing ya know it’s going to be all the ponies fault… come on people be responsible for your children don’t place your child’s safety in the hands of a random ponies and zoo employee if you can walk with your child yourself. Heck the child could of lost balance and fell off being stepped on.. who’s fault is it then.

  • Sara Johnson

    Glad the girl is ok.we have taken our grandkids to the zoo alot. We have always put the children on the ponies,walked with them, and then took them off and carried them out. Even the older grandkids are put on the ponies by us and instructed not to get off until we help them. We follow same rules on train and carousel. It’s common sense to take care of the children you bring to the zoo or any other place. The gate is very easy for an adult to open and the staff has always been good to us . They do not care if you go in there with the kids and encourage it. Be responsible!!!

  • Lori S. Fries-Wiegand

    Ponies are babies also otherwise they would be horses. Grandma should have been there for the granddaughter not worried about a photo opportunity. Grandma is just lucky it wasn’t a full grown horse that kicked her granddaughter.

    • Mary

      Wow…this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard LOL. Ponies are not “baby horses”. Please get your facts straight.

  • ted1234567

    I personally would like to draw and quarter the people who are trying to lay any blame on the zoo. Too bad grandma’s face didn’t receive the kick, maybe it will catch a wrecking ball some day.

  • Dickhead

    LOL! Good for you horses. Teach that little girl a lesson. I’d be pissed also if people kept me in a confined area all my life.

  • Ruud Punter

    I feel really bad for the little girl and the fact that her familial escort was not more pro-active and accountable. Whomever left home with that child in their custody, was accountable for that child’s welfare from the start. If they want to transfer that to some unknow nzoo personnel, that is their decision. All adults should know that one does NOT walk behind a tethered beast of burden (or cow for that matter). Else, they have no business letting children near animals. We cannot balme the zoo until we first blame the adult who brought the child to the zoo.

  • Jla

    Talk about exaggeration. No way was she “airborne” and it looks sort of like she was kicked backwards, not face planted.

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