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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 17:38 GMT 18:38 UK
Toddler is bitten by fish in pond
A toddler has had surgery after being bitten by a non-carnivorous relative of the deadly piranha during a visit to an Edinburgh tourist attraction.

The 18-month-old girl was pulled away from the water with the fish, a South American pacu, attached.

She has now had plastic surgery to a finger and Midlothian Council said it was carrying out an investigation.

The girl was visiting Butterfly World with her mother when it is thought she dangled her hand in a pond.

After the toddler was bitten she was rescued with the fish still attached to her finger.

The commotion attracted other fish, some of which landed on the ground outside the water.

She was given first aid at the scene and later taken to the Sick Children's Hospital in Edinburgh.

'Banana piranha'

James Barnes, managing director of the butterfly and insect farm south of the city, said inquiries were continuing into the incident which happened on Monday.

He said: "Everybody is shocked by it, especially when it happens to a tiny wee person, which is why we need to review this and make sure it does not happen again."

Mr Barnes said the eight-inch pacu was a "banana piranha" rather than a "Dr No meat-eating fish" because the largely vegetarian species are often fed bananas alongside fish pellets.

Part of our philosophy is to keep people as close to the animals as we can, so we have butterflies around and handling sessions so you can understand the creatures a bit better.
James Barnes
Managing directo
Although the fish looks similar to the piranha and is a relative of the species, he said it is a different species.

In the wild pacus eat hard nut-like vegetation which they crush in their powerful mouths.

Mr Barnes said the butterfly farm had kept similar fish for more than 10 years without anyone being bitten.

He added: "Part of our philosophy is to keep people as close to the animals as we can, so we have butterflies around and handling sessions so you can understand the creatures a bit better.

"But obviously it was a stressful incident and we need to take note of it and make improvements to the infrastructure so it does not happen again."

Midlothian Council said it was investigating the incident.

A spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that we are currently carrying out an investigation under the health and safety at work legislation as enforced by the council's environmental health officers following a report of an incident at Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World."


SEE ALSO:
Piranhas found in Manchester pond
05 Jun 04  |  Manchester
Killer fish hits boat in Thames
20 Feb 04  |  Science/Nature
Piranha increase 'due to dams'
28 Dec 03  |  Science/Nature
Hungry piranha seeks good catch
01 Jun 00  |  Wales


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