Damages claim of girl stung by wasps at Dublin Zoo is dismissed

Judge said nobody had seen a nest of wasps or bees falling from trees over nature path

A €60,000 damages claim on behalf of a 17-months-old toddler, who was stung by wasps while on a visit to Dublin Zoo, has been dismissed by Judge Catherine Staines in the Circuit Civil Court.

Judge Staines told barrister John Martin, counsel for the zoo, that witnesses for Aimee Tobin, now aged seven, had failed to convince the court there had been negligence on the part of the wildlife park despite claims that a nest had fallen from a tree and she had been stung by a swarm of angry insects.

Aimee, through her mother Margaret, had sued The Zoological Society of Ireland, Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Mr Martin, who appeared with Louise Boughton of Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors, told the court that while the zoo did not deny Aimee had been stung during her family visit on 11th August 2016, there had been no evidence of a wasp’s nest having fallen or that her injury had in any way been caused through fault of the zoo.


Judge Staines said nobody had seen a nest of wasps or bees having fallen from trees overhanging a nature path or any sign of swarming insects. Retired chief horticulturist Stephen Butler had told the court he would have expected some sort of debris from a nest or hive had one fallen but there had been no evidence of any.

Aimee Tobin’s then teenage sister, Daria, told the court Aimee had been attacked by a swarm of bees after a nest had fallen down. She had grabbed her by the shoulders, lifting her away from them. She and her mother and Aimee had been taken to reception where an ambulance crew had treated Aimee by giving her Calpol for pain.

She said the incident had been reported to staff and there were bees stuck in Aimee’s clothes, her hair and her nappies.

Daria Tobin, who broke down in tears during cross-examination, said that Aimee had been crying and screaming and her eyes had been rolling in her head. She could not say if she had been stung by wasps or bees. “They were a swarm of stinging insects,” she said.

Ms Tobin agreed with Mr Martin that it was summer time and wasps and bees would fly into houses, courtrooms and even cars. Mr Martin said there had initially been a report of nine stings, then it became six stings and she had clearly stated in her evidence there had been three stings.

Aimee had not been hospitalised and afterwards the Tobin family had returned by train to their home at The Forts, Doon, Co Limerick, and she had received further treatment from her General Practitioner.

Ms Tobin, who is deaf and gave evidence with the aid of a sign language interpreter, said she had not seen a nest fall but the air had been full of flying black things. She said they had been pulling Aimee’s clothes off when a young boy gave her a tweezers to pull the stings out.

Members of staff told the court there had been 7,000 visitors to the zoo on the day of the incident and there had been no other reports of stings. They claimed there had been no complaint from any member of the Tobin family about a nest having fallen or a swarm of wasps or bees.

Judge Staines said that while she felt sorry for the pain that Aimee had suffered, and for her sister Daria and mother, no case of negligence against the zoo had been established and she dismissed the case with an order for costs.