Michelle Schwab a mother of three and an assistant director at a childcare center faces the prospect of six months in jail and a $1000 fine after dropping her two year old son into a cheetah enclosure.
The 38 year old woman would be charged after inexplicably dangling her son over a 10ft deep enclosure at Cleveland’s Metroparks Zoo before losing grip of the boy.
A loud scream was heard by witnesses before the woman’s husband jumped over the enclosure to retrieve their son, who was later treated for leg injury.
At the time there were two feline cheetahs in the enclosure, with zoo officials telling that the startled animals had declined to approach the toddler.
Offered witness Michael Lurie via WKYC: ‘You saw how far the drop was and you just couldn’t believe the kid didn’t hurt himself from falling down on the ground,’
Adding: ‘I was just shocked,’
‘I didn’t understand how the parents let the kid go over the thing.’
Reflected relative Terra Lurie after noting the cheetah’s startled reactions: ‘I think they were just curious as to what was going on and why somebody was in the pen with them,’
‘It’s not every day that somebody is just in the pen with them.’
‘And everyone else is screaming and they probably got scared.’
Since the weekend incident the mother’s employer, Kindercare confirmed that Schwab had taken leave of absence
Offered spokesperson Colleen Moran via an email: ‘We were saddened to hear of Saturday’s incident at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo involving Michelle Schwab’s son, and we wish him a speedy recovery.
‘Ms Schwab has been the Assistant Director at the Sawmill Road KinderCare in Columbus. She is currently home with her family, and will remain out of our center while this issue is investigated and addressed.
‘In addition to the agencies looking into this issue, we are looking into the incident further ourselves, as we closely examine issues involving the treatment of children by our employees, even if those incidents arise outside of our centers.’
Schwab is due in Cleveland Municipal Court on April 22.
The zoo’s cheetah exhibit has since reopened, but the overlook area where the incident took place remains closed.