Mother charged after son falls into zoo's cheetah exhibit

Story highlights

  • mother charged with child endangerment after dropping 2-year-old son into zoo's cheetah exhibit
  • Zoo official: Eyewitnesses suggest boy was dangled over the rail

(CNN)An Ohio mother has been charged with child endangerment after her 2-year-old son dropped some 10 feet into a zoo's cheetah exhibit over the weekend.

According to eyewitnesses, the child -- who suffered leg injuries -- was dangled over the rail of the the Cleveland Metropark Zoo's cheetah exhibit Saturday. "Unfortunately, we have a number of eyewitness accounts that point to the strong likelihood that the child was dangled over the rail," Christopher Kuhar, executive director of the zoo, told CNN affiliate WEWS.
Michelle Schwab, 38, will be arraigned April 22 for misdemeanor child endangerment, according to court records. She has not responded to CNN's requests for comment. The boy's father, Cory Schwab, was also at the zoo, but he has not been charged.
    The cheetah, with its distinctive black spots, is considered the world's fastest land mammal with speeds up to 68 mph.
    According to Kuhar, both parents quickly went down into the exhibit to retrieve him, and that neither of the zoo's cheetah's -- a pair of 4-year-old males -- attempted to interact with either the child or his parents.
    The zoo's cheetahs are in an outdoor exhibit attached to the primate, cat and aquatics building. The zoo's website says they are fed a canine diet along with weekly bones and horse meat, chicken and rabbit.
    Cleveland Metroparks Zoo said that it is "committed to the safety our visitors, employees, animal collection and volunteers," and that while the cheetah exhibit remains open, "the viewing deck is temporarily closed" while the incident is investigated.