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17th Aug 2021

Terrifying video shows guest at reptile centre rescuing handler pulled in by alligator

Clara Kelly

“These gentlemen could have stayed in the safety zone as most of us would, but instead jumped into the situation.”

A guest at a reptile centre in Utah jumped into an enclosure to rescue a handler pulled in by an alligator at a kid’s birthday party.

The staff member was taken to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery after coming close to losing a hand in the attack after being yanked into the enclosure at Scales and Tails in Salt Lake City.

Footage filmed by a guest at the party showed the reptile wrestling with the keeper’s hand as she struggled to break free from the grip, before a guest at the centre, Donnie Wiseman, jumped into the water and climbed on top of the reptile.

Another guest, Todd Christopher, assisted Wiseman in setting the handler free with instructions given from her during the attack.

Meanwhile, another visitor, Amy Christopher also performed first aid on the handler before emergency services arrived on the scene.

In a statement following the attack, Scales and Tails said that while working with animals has “inherent risks” they are hopeful the event “never happens” again as they thanked the visitors for their “heroism”.

“One of our gator handlers got bitten by our large alligator and things took a bad turn,” the statement continued.

“These gentlemen could have stayed in the safety zone as most of us would, but instead jumped into the situation, of their own volition, and helped secure the alligator.

“Their help, combined with the training of our staff member, probably saved her life and her limbs. Mrs. Christopher had a nursing background and started first aid prior to the EMT’s arrival and we thank her for that as well.”

The centre added that the staff member is “doing well and is in recovery”.

The trainer later said in a statement that she was “lucky to land in a hospital that employs what has to be the best orthopedic surgeon in Utah” and should regain full use of her hand.

“He was able to improvise and come up with a solution that should result in full use of my hand,” she said.

“I can’t explain the level of admiration I have for that man. I’m being treated aggressively with antibiotics, which I’m thankful the infectious disease staff here were prepared to do.”

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