Tiger Mauls Trainer at Australia Zoo
A trainer at Australia Zoo is in serious but stable condition after being mauled by a tiger during a routine demonstration Tuesday.
Senior tiger handler Dave Styles is recovering following surgery at the Royal Brisbane Hospital after an incident during a tiger demo today.
— Australia Zoo (@AustraliaZoo) November 26, 2013
David Styles, a 30-year-old senior tiger handler at the zoo, was in the middle of a performance with the tiger when the atmosphere changed abruptly, according to the New York Daily News. The animal suddenly lunged at Styles, biting into his neck and shoulder and dragging him into nearby water.
As many as 50 zoo patrons stood horrified. One onlooker described the incident in a tweet, writing “Things went from playful to violent instantly.”
Several other employees rushed to the scene to separate the tiger and trainer. Zoo director Wes Mennon said the other employees handled the situation perfectly, and the tiger “let go pretty much immediately once the other handlers grabbed him.”
Before the tiger attack, they were chasing toys during the show. Important to stress the keepers weren't at fault pic.twitter.com/FH0xKMMZ9A
— Dan (@dbass9) November 26, 2013
Mennon commented, “At the time of the incident, our emergency response team were on the scene immediately. They acted professionally and calmly. My hat goes off to them.”
Zoo officials believe the incident was an unfortunate accident without a clear cause, and that the trainer is in no way to blame. Styles has nine years of experience with big cats, according to Mennon, and has been working with this particular tiger since he was a cub.
The attack and neck wounds could have been much worse. Dr. Andrew Haggerty said “Any bleeding in the [neck area] itself could cause significant complications.”
Still, officials believe this is the worst tiger attack in the history of the zoo, which was popularized by the late wildlife daredevil Steve Irwin. Mennon stated that there would be no repercussions for the tiger.