Indy Zoo making changes after toddler burned on slide

Tynlee is recovering from a bad leg burn.
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A local mother wants to warn other parents about the burn dangers from playground slides. Her toddler was treated for a serious leg burn after using the slide at the Indianapolis zoo.

Playground playtime is usually the activity of choice for Khara Sinclair and her daughters. However, after a visit last week to the Indianapolis Zoo, 22-month-old Tynlee won't go near a slide.

"I went to throw away her Popsicle and heard her gut-wrenching scream," said mother Khara Sinclair.

Eyewitness News has obtained photos of Tynlee just hours after her mother says she suffered second-degree burns from this plastic slide at the Indianapolis Zoo.

"Her butt was stuck to the side of the pole and her skin came off where it curved right there," said Sinclair.

Before this happened here at the Zoo in the play area near the café, the Noblesville mother says she did not touch the slide to test the temperature because other kids were playing there as well: "I didn't realize it at first that they were running up and down the slide. They were not sliding down."

To make matters worse, Sinclair says she didn't get first aid until she frantically ran to find help. Sinclair eventually took her daughter to the emergency room.

A few days later, Khara Sinclair was offered seven admission tickets to the Indianapolis Zoo for her problems. Public Relations Director Jon Glesing said his staff messed up.

"It was clearly a miss by us. It was unacceptable," said Glesing.

But how did this burn happen on this plastic slide?

Jon Glesing says there isn't a clear answer, because no other child has ever burnt themselves on this playground equipment since it's been at the Zoo for the last ten years. He suggested a lack of shade near the playground area on that 78-degree April day may have been an issue.

"It is hard to say. Clearly with a later spring, trees have not come into bloom like they did in years past," said Glesing.

Pediatric hospitalist Doctor Michael McKenna says burns can happen very fast, even on a plastic surfaces: "The American Academy of Pediatrics suggest slides are pointed away from the sun or out of the sun," said Glesing.

The pediatrician said parents can often forget plastic slides can be hazardous, especially for younger children with more sensitive skin.

Because of what happened to Tynlee, the Indianapolis Zoo is making changes.

The security team will check the temperature of the slides and other potential heat-sensitive areas every 30 minutes, which is more often than they used to check.

Zoo officials are adding more caution signs on the playground equipment to alert parents surfaces may be hot. They're also reminding parents to check the recommended ages. The main sign at that playground notes that the area is intended for use by children between the ages of five and 12. The zoo encourages parents of younger children to use the new play area called Tots Tree House near the Flights of Fancy area.

They are re-training their staff to respond better to emergency situations.