Sunday 25 February 2018

Watch: horrified tourists look on as crocodile attacks worker in Australian animal sanctuary

Tourists look on as Renee Robertson is mauled by a crocodile during a feeding show at Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville

Chris Graham

Shocked tourists have described the moment a crocodile attacked an animal sanctuary worker in Australia.

Renee Robertson was overseeing a feeding show at Billabong Sanctuary in Townsville, Queensland, when the 2.5-metre crocodile named Tipper cornered her.

The crocodile slithers out of the water towards Renee Robertson at the Billabong Sanctuary near Townsville. Photo: YouTube
The crocodile slithers out of the water towards Renee Robertson at the Billabong Sanctuary near Townsville. Photo: YouTube

Footage of the incident shows the creature moving towards Ms Robertson before lunging at her. She is heard crying out as the crocodile mauls her arm, before a colleague fights it off with a stick.

Ms Robertson was taken to hospital, where she was recovering from serious injuries to her arm.

“The screams you could hear were shocking, we felt so helpless for the poor woman in the enclosure,’’ witness Frank He told The Courier-Mail.

“There were quite a few people watching the show, and we were all just in shock.

“Luckily the girl was only attacked by the small female crocodile that was about 2m long; there was a larger male one near the water that was twice as big.”

Eight people were treated for shock after the incident.

Senior Queensland ambulance operations supervisor Ross MacDonald said Ms Robertson had been "fully conscious on arrival”.

“Our paramedics just stabilised her with pain relief and intravenous fluid and transported her through to Townsville hospital,” he told Guardian Australia

Bob Flemming, the owner of the sanctuary, said Ms Robertson had surgery to repair serious injuries to her arm.

"There was no nerve damage so that was the best news we could have had," Mr Flemming told the ABC.

"She had surgery and last report I heard she was sitting up in bed having an ice block. We're very fortunate that she's going to fully recover."

Mr Flemming said the sanctuary had not seen an attack for more than 20 years, adding the crocodile would not be put down.

“It was a very unfortunate incident and one that we’re very sad about,” he told The Courier-Mail. “As Tipper is a crocodile, she’s certainly not going to be euthanised but we’ll review our training procedures and make sure it never happens again.”

He said he was trying to determine what happened.

The incident is expected to be investigated by workplace health and safety officials.

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