A crocodile has cornered, attacked and savaged a female wildlife handler during a feeding show at a Queensland animal park. Renee Robertson, 25, a ranger at the Billabong Sanctuary near Townsville is expected make a full recovery, the Courier-Mail newspaper reported yesterday.
Video of the incident, apparently filmed by a tourist, has been placed on YouTube here:
Robertson was backed into a corner by the 2.5-metre female crocodile in an enclosure on Monday. The reptile, named Tipper, suddenly lunged at her and brought her to the ground, mauling her arm, witnesses said.
Another ranger whacked Tipper heartily with a stick as Robertson screamed in pain in front of horrified tourists.
Robertson was rushed to Townsville hospital with what an ambulance officer said was a “significant arm injury”.
A witness, Frank He, told the Courier Mail many tourists who was the attack thought at first that the crocodile’s steady advance towards the ranger was all part of the show.
“The screams you could hear were shocking,” He said. “We felt so helpless for the poor woman in the enclosure.”
Eight people who witnessed the attack were treated for shock, the paper reported. Workplace Health and Safety officers, helped by staff at the sanctuary, will investigate the circumstances of the attack.
Bob Flemming, the owner of the Billabong Sanctuary, told the ABC that Robertson had undergone surgery and “last report I heard she was sitting up in bed having an ice block”.
Billabong Sanctuary’s website says it offers close encounters with “your favourite Australian animals” – koalas, crocodiles, wombats, dingoes, kangaroos, pythons and cassowaries.
“Meet your favourites here, in a tropical bushland setting on the shores of the billabong, where everyone is guaranteed a rewarding personal experience,” the website says.
Written by Peter Needham