A ten-year-old boy, who witnessed an attack on his toddler sister by a Brazilian taper at Dublin Zoo and saw his parents injured in the attempt to save her, has been awarded €25,000 in the Circuit Civil Court.
Ruari Owens, who is now 15, saw the female tapir, which had earlier given birth to a calf, lift his two-year-old sister Katie in its mouth and violently shake her, causing her serious injury.
Katie's parents, Daragh Owens and Patricia Frost, fought off the animal and were themselves injured in the incident, which occurred at Dublin Zoo on 8 August 2013.
Barrister Francis McGagh, counsel for the Mayo family, told Judge Francis Comerford today that the children had been in the tapir cage and Ruari had seen close-up the sudden and violent attack.
Mr McGagh, who appeared with Cathy McDarby, of McDarby Solicitors, Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, told the court that Ruari's brother Cathal, who was only six at the time, had also witnessed the vicious attack.
Both boys, while not physically injured, had suffered psychological injury.
Mr McGagh said the Zoological Society of Ireland, had also offered Cathal, now aged 11, settlement damages of €25,000 but Judge Comerford said that from medical reports Cathal seemed to have been more seriously affected.
He adjourned consideration of Cathal's settlement figure until the court receives an up-to-date report.
Mr McGagh told Judge Comerford that claims on behalf of Katie and her parents were currently before the High Court.
The court was told that a family friend had organised for the family to accompany a zoo keeper into the tapir enclosure.
The little girl, who was picked up by the tapir's mouth, suffered stomach and arm injuries, had to receive treatment from surgeons at Temple Street Children's Hospital, while her mother also required medical attention.
Both parents, apart from physical injuries, had suffered traumatic psychological injuries.
Mr McGagh told Judge Comerford that the family had also suffered trauma as a result of extensive media coverage of the incident, including a prosecution that had been taken against the Zoological Society in the district court.
Mr McGagh made an appeal to the media to treat today's reporting of the cases with sensitivity and asked that the family be left to get on with their lives in peace.
In December 2014, the Zoological Society was prosecuted on the grounds of negligence in the district court where the judge applied the Probation Act, thus avoiding a criminal conviction, and ordered the zoo to make donations of €2,500 each to both the Jack and Jill Foundation and to the Laura Lynn Children's Hospice.
Judge Comerford put Cathal's case back for a further medical report.