A crocodile has attacked its handler in front of children during a feeding show in Australia.
“Tipper”, a 2.5m freshwater crocodile, turned on 25-year-old ranger Renee Robertson as horrified families looked on in Queensland.
Footage obtained by a local newspaper showed the reptile walking out the water and approaching the ranger as she held out food on a long pole on Monday afternoon.
The crocodile latched on to her arm and dragged her on to the ground, biting the screaming woman until another ranger beat it away with a stick.
A witness told The Courier-Mail tourists originally thought the crocodile lunge was part of the show until Ms Robertson fell.
“The screams you could hear were shocking, we felt so helpless for the poor woman in the enclosure,’’ Frank He said.
“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.”
Ms Robertson was taken to Townsville Hospital while onlookers were treated by paramedics for shock.
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She needed surgery for her injuries but has full use of her fingers and should make a full recovery, ABC North Queensland reported.
The tourist attraction is reviewing its safety incident following the incident, which happened as Ms Robertson acted as a “safety spotter”.
Billabong Sanctuary advertises two crocodile feeding shows per day on its website, alongside shows with koalas, turtles, wombats, kangaroos and reptiles.
“Our freshwater crocodiles are hungry!” one advert reads. “For just $10 you can get close enough to stare into the jaws of these sharp-fanged reptiles.”
A spokesperson posted a statement on Facebook on Monday, accompanied by a photo of Ms Robertson with a dingo.
“All her furred and feathered friends are sending heartfelt wishes to our mammal specialist Ranger Renee Robertson for a full and speedy recovery,” it said.
The attack sparked criticism from animal rights and conservation groups over the way crocodile feeding is displayed, making the reptiles jump and do tricks for their food.
Claire Fryer, a Peta campaign co-ordinator, told ABC: “Zoos give people the false idea that these animals are somehow domesticated and able to be used and abused for our entertainment.
“Captivity does not extinguish an animal's instincts."