The Dutch man and his wife had been strolling through the Eifel Zoo in Lünebach with their two children around 5:30 pm on Wednesday. At some point they failed to watch their toddler closely enough, and she scrambled over a 105-centimetre fence, falling into a moat surrounding a bear enclosure.
“The father of the child jumped over the fence immediately and brought the child – who had already sustained a swipe from the bear to her forehead – to safety,” a statement said.
The 28-year-old Asian black bear injured the man's leg, but he was also able to get out of the enclosure on his own.
Other zoo visitors who witnessed the dramatic scene called emergency services, who treated the child on site before flying her to a Trier hospital via helicopter.
Her 34-year-old father received outpatient care at another hospital. Neither of their injuries are life-threatening, police said.
Officers are now investigating whether the child's parents or the zoo may be guilty of criminal negligence leading to the accident.
“What remains certain already is that the family from the Dutch province of Zeeland had a large portion of luck to go along with their bad luck,” the police statement said.