​Tiger Mauls Trainer At Australia Zoo

Staff Reporter
Aug. 3, 2014

A tiger at the Australia Zoo bit a trainer on the neck, sending him to a hospital by helicopter. David Styles, 30, suffered puncture wounds by the tiger in an incident described by one visitor as “horrifying.”

Styles was treated by paramedics before being flown to a flown to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital by the RACQ Careflight helicopter in a serious condition.

Colleagues began beating the animal with a large stick as they tried to pull Styles to safety. He was conscious and breathing, but sustained two large puncture wounds from the attack. The zoo is famous throughout the world as it was owned by crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, who was killed by a stingray barb while swimming off the North Queensland coast in 2006.

Australia Zoo director Wes Mennon was quick to comment the actions of a group of zoo keepers nearby who saw the attack and helped drag the trainer away from the tiger.

“At the time of the incident, our emergency response team were on the scene immediately,” he said. “They acted professionally and calmly. My hat goes off to them.”

Mennon said Styles had nine years experience with big cats and had raised the tiger since it arrived at the zoo as a cub.

“Our priority is the wellbeing of the handler, who is a valued member of our Australia Zoo family. Our full support is with the handler and family,” he added.

The shocking attack was witnessed by as many as 50 people, among them 14-year-old Jake D’Olimpio, who told the Courier Mail that the incident occurred during a performance with the tiger.

He said he saw the tiger jump on the front of the trainer and lunged at the man’s neck with his jaws.

“It was horrifying. They fell in the water and the tiger was trying to hold him under,” the witness said.

The other trainers, maybe four of them, tried to fight the tiger off. One of them was hitting it with a stick.

The zoo keeps three Bengal and eight Sumatran tigers. Visitors are offered the chance to be photographed with the animals every afternoon.

In 2009, there were two attacks on keepers at the zoo, one by a Bengal tiger and another by a Sumatran tiger, in both cases the keepers were hospitalised but recovered from their injuries. It remains unclear what caused this atack but it is thought to be the most serious in the zoo’s history.

Steve Irwin’s widow, Terri, still has involvement with the zoo and the crocodile hunter’s children Bindi and Bob are young TV stars in both Australia and the US.

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