“Move Closer To the Rhino” And Other Telltale Signs Of A Tort In Progress

C6C6F1AE34FEB65B312428D2BB3B65_h316_w628_m5_cPjvBRfBRThere is something about the statement “move closer to the rhino” that should give most everyone pause. What is bizarre in a case out of South Africa is that the highly suspect suggestion came from a game keeper who was taking pictures of a couple from Johannesburg. You guessed it. The picture was the last record of the couple shortly before the rhino attacked Chantal Beyer, a 24-year-old woman.

Chantal Beyer said the game park owner snapped pictures and suggested that she “stand just a little bit closer” to two rhinos just a few feet away. One rhino then attacked her and penetrated Beyers’ chest from behind, collapsing a lung, breaking ribs and almost killing her.

In the United States, the liability of the Aloe Ridge Hotel and Nature Reserve would be obvious and extreme. While some states give zoos and other animal reserves protection from strict liability, this would be an easy case for negligence. Moreover, as a keeper of a wild animal, strict liability would seem to apply absent such a law in the United States. Normally, there would be a question of whether the establishment had possession or control of the animal. This was the issue in Woods-Leber v Hyatt Hotels of Puerto Rico (1997), Hyatt was found not to be strictly liable for an attack on its grounds by a rabid mongoose on a guest. It was not viewed as possessing the animal since wild animals could move freely on to the property. The same issue came up recently in the United States in the case of the woman who had her face ripped off by a neighbor’s pet chimpanzee and a case in Arizona involving a javelina.

Here however the employee actively encouraged the woman to get close to a wild animal.

Source: MSN

21 thoughts on ““Move Closer To the Rhino” And Other Telltale Signs Of A Tort In Progress”

  1. Rafflaw:
    I’ll take you up on that if the opportunity presents itself. I guess I was sort of put off by the hype. Generally the more something is hyped, the less I am likely to want to try it. But, might as well give it a shot.

  2. I never could fully understand the cost / benefit of the segway. I remember when it was first “announced” to the public, with all these grand claims about how cities would be re-engineered to accomodate the next greatest invention since the automobile. Thousands of dollars to buy one and chock full of expensive tech and many opportunities for it to malfunction.

    To me it would be far cheaper to make a battery powered version of a large scooter, like an adult version of a child’s one with one wheel in front and the other in back. Zero technology required to balance it. 95% less cost. Gets you there just the same.

  3. Ah yes. Just another example of the stupid people of the world. Please save us from the stupid.

    Seemingly a couple of urbanites from JNB pretending a wild Rhino is like a pussy cat you can pose with on your front lawn.

    If they had survived this one without a scratch it was no doubt onto lion territory for a photo with mom and her cubs.

    Just look at the aggressive pose the rhino has adopted on these 2. It is in full attack mode. I am surprised these 2 were not both killed.

    Both the couple and the guide are equally liable in my opinion. Both were totally and equally negligent. The game keeper/guide should have had more sense than to allow tourists to be any where but a very safe distance (at least 200 metres) , when virtually unprotected, from one of these animals. These animals are bad tempered and do not like being disturbed in their habitat. These creatures weigh over a ton and despite their size can run at up to 30 mph. Good luck getting away if one sizes you up for an attack.

    The vehicle in the photo (which looks like a modified Mini Moke) also seems way too under weight, open and under protected to be roaming in a game park.

    (I have been to both Sth Africa and Zimbabwe.)

  4. AY,
    I think you are right. I had the chance to take a Segway tour of Millenium Park and the museum campus in Chicago. It was great fun.

  5. living in florida i know what it’s like to deal with a$$hole tourists. we usually say “don’t worry, that gators dead”, or “rattlesnakes never bite when its this hot”.

  6. Well thank you for the correction…. Now, I know…..you do good work…

  7. Anonymous… you have it partially correct, but it was NOT the INVENTOR of the Segway who perished in an accidental death, it was the Company’s new 2010 OWNER. (Inventor Dean Kamen sold the 1999-founded Segway company to UK’s Jim Heselden in 2010.)

    The problem with this bit of folk lore (sic) is that THIS story is told to exemplify a level of stupidity, that the Segway was a foolhardy invention, as proven by “the contraption” killing the man who invented it.

    What really happened:

    On his estate in the UK the Company’s new owner was test riding a beefier cross-country Segway model. While riding on a narrow cliff-side trail he came upon a neighbor walking his dog.

    The coroner opined that Heselden being on a vehicle attempted to let the dog walker past. Heselden put the Segway in reverse and literally backed off the cliff, falling to his death 213′ below.

  8. Raff,

    Don’t know if this is just folk lore but I think the inventor of Segway died exactly that way…. Driving his Segway over a cliff…

  9. I have to agree with Mike S. that the waivers won’t serve to protect the resort although it is incredibly stupid. I’ve never been to Africa, but there are a couple of things I recall about rhinos from nature shows and zoo trips: they have poor eyesight, they are aggressive when approached, and you can never count on them to tow the party line.

  10. Stupid is as stupid does! What were they thinking/ Don’t worry about the cliff up ahead, keep driving!

  11. I think the game preserve is liable no matter what disclaimers the couple signed, since they did rely on the Guide’s expertise in escorting them. however, the ability of people to override their ow instincts in favor of any “experts” can often lead to tragic results.

  12. RWL, His proper name is, Yosemite Sam. And I expect you to remember that fact in future references to this great American, albeit animated!!!

    Having worked in the very tough neighborhoods of KC, which had a history of under the porch dogs, I learned to never believe the oft used phrase, “He won’t bite.”

  13. After reading this article, it kinda reminds me of a scene from Bugs Bunny. In this scene, Bugs is telling Sam (the short guy with the guns and cowboy hat with his funny mustache) to bring the piano up the stairs and eventually gets him to move ‘a little more’ and Sam ends up out the window with the piano. LoL! Sorry but I had to go there!

  14. What about assumption of risk….. Seems the disclaimer they should have signed would indicate this…. But this is South Africa…..

  15. Its hard to believe anyone would be that naive around wild animals. THe game keeper is an idiot and should be held liable. But really no amount of money is going to make things right.

  16. Well, now we know what would happen in legal redress in America – got any idea what will happen in South Africa?

Comments are closed.