Visitors praised for jumping onto alligator to save trainer

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Robert Besser

  • A trainer at a reptile center in Salt Lake City, is recovering after an alligator dragged her into its enclosure during a presentation on Saturday
  • In an interview on Monday, the center’s owner, Shane Richins, said the handler was opening the enclosure to feed the alligator as usual, but the animal “got a little extra spunky”
  • The handler underwent surgery and is taking antibiotics

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah: A trainer at a reptile center in Salt Lake City, is recovering after an alligator dragged her into its enclosure during a presentation on Saturday.

The handler, an employee at the Scales and Tails Utah, was talking to a group of adults and children about the alligator before it bit her hand and dragged her into its pen. However, a visitor jumped into the water and helped free her from the alligator.

In an interview on Monday, the center’s owner, Shane Richins, said the handler was opening the enclosure to feed the alligator as usual, but the animal “got a little extra spunky.”

The center usually requires a second handler to be present when employees are working with alligators, but this policy has not been enforced when a worker is not planning to enter the enclosure, he added.

The alligator dragged the handler into its pen and began thrashing her around, keeping its jaws clamped. But a guest, later identified as Donnie Wiseman, jumped into the water and climbed onto the reptile while yelling, “We have got trouble in here!”

After Wiseman pinned down the alligator, the handler gave him and another visitor instructions to help her escape.

Before emergency crews arrived, Christopher’s wife, who has a nursing background, performed first aid.

The handler underwent surgery and is taking antibiotics, Richins stated.

“These gentlemen could have stayed in the safety zone as most of us would, but they instead jumped into the situation.and helped secure the alligator. Their help, combined with the training of our staff member, probably saved her life and limbs,” the company stated. Zim Star

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