Los Angeles police are investigating a bizarre trespassing case that came to light after video surfaced of a man climbing a wall at the Los Angeles Zoo and slapping the backside of a hippopotamus.
The video was shared on social media last week. That's when zoo officials first learned of the guest's unusual actions and reported the case to Los Angeles police.
"It is never acceptable for a guest to enter the habitat of any animal at the zoo, excluding our staff-supervised animal encounters," the zoo said in a statement. "It is a privilege to observe these rare and endangered species, but they are still wild animals and their space must be respected at all times. Our first priority is always to keep our guests, staff, and animals safe."
The video was shot from across the hippo enclosure and shows the man moving over the wall toward the hippos, Mara and her calf Rosie, then quickly slapping one of them. Rosie, born in 2014, appeared to flinch, and Mara can be seen raising her head.
A "No Trespassing" sign was installed at the exhibit featuring hippos Rosie and Mara. It's the first such sign to be placed on an animal exhibit at the zoo in Los Angeles' Griffith Park. There were already signs posted at the zoo entrance.
Spurlock told the Los Angeles Times it's rare to receive a report of animal-visitor encounters like this. A similar case occurred in 2011 when a woman crossed two barriers and approached a pair of elephants. The animals weren't touched and the woman was escorted from the zoo and arrested.