Tiger attacks zookeeper at Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo

The man suffered 'deep puncture wounds' to his head and arm but describes injuries as 'a few claw marks'

Charlotte Beale
Thursday 21 January 2016 14:04 GMT
Steve Irwin was killed by a Stingray in 2006
Steve Irwin was killed by a Stingray in 2006 (AP)

A tiger at the zoo formerly owned by the late wildlife enthusiast Steve Irwin has attacked one of its handlers.

The man suffered “deep puncture wounds” and scratches to his forearm and head when the tiger, weighing 120 kilos, “swatted” him during a morning walk, said Queensland Ambulance Service.

In a video tweeted by Irwin's widow Terri, Che Woolcott said he “got a few claw marks”, adding “these things happen with tigers”.

Mr Woolcott was taking Ranu on his routine morning walk when the attack happened.

When Mr Woolcott “approached [Ranu] to change direction, he swatted his paw resulting in a scratch on his left wrist, bicep and right side of the forehead”, the zoo said in a statement.

Ranu “was a bit frustrated with the heat", said Mr Woolcott. "He wanted to go one way and I wanted to go the other".

The 35-year-old is recovering at home after receiving stitches in Nambour hospital.

Australia Zoo was started by the parents of conservationist 'Crocodile Hunter' Irwin, who was fatally stung in the chest by a stingray in 2006.

Paramedics treated the 41-year-old at the scene before taking him to hospital.

“It wasn’t an attack or a mauling,” head zoo curator Kelsey Engle told the Brisbane Courier Mail. Mr Woolcott has worked with Che since he was a cub and is expected to return to work within days.

“Both Ranu and the handler are well”, the zoo said.

“Our much loved Ranu will continue his normal enrichment routines at Australia Zoo.”

Man Jumps into Tiger Cage

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland inspectors are investigating the incident, reported The Brisbane Times.

This tiger attack is the third at Australia Zoo in just over two years.

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