By NEAL PUTNAM
An arrest warrant remains outstanding for a man suspected of child endangerment and trespassing into an elephant enclosure at the San Diego Zoo because he failed to show up in court as he promised.
Jose Manuel Navarrete, 26, was seen with his 2-year-old daughter as he was trying to take a photo inside the elephant enclosure on March 19, 2021.
He posted $100,000 bond and made all his court appearances, but missed a hearing in Jan. 2022.
His attorney told San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta she had not spoken with him recently, so the judge issued the warrant for his arrest.
As of Feb. 28—almost a month and a half later—the warrant is still outstanding, according to the District Attorney’s office.
“A warrant in the amount of $150,000 was issued at that time,” said Deputy District Attorney Bree Garcia.
“Our records indicate he is still at warrant and there are no future dates at this time,” said Garcia.
Navarrete lived in Fullerton, Ca. and court records say he was to have “no negative contact” with his 2-year-old daughter, whom he accidently dropped when the elephant briefly charged at him.
Witnesses said Navarrete was apparently trying to take a picture and had his back to an elephant, which appeared to grow agitated at his appearance inside the enclosure.
Zoo tourists began yelling at Navarrete to leave the enclosure which he did. They also took video, which was shown on television newscasts.
Navarrete had pleaded not guilty. He has not had a preliminary hearing yet.
San Diego Police officers were called to the zoo by the zoo itself and Navarrete was arrested without incident. Police said the man “wanted to take a photo with the African bull elephant.”
The zoo said the elephant habitat “is home to our Asian and African elephants.” They said the man went through “multiple barriers, purposely and illegally trespassed into a habitat” around 4:20 p.m., according to their press release.
— Neal Putnam is a local court reporter.