News State QLD News Crocodile attacks handler near Townsville

Crocodile attacks handler near Townsville

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A crocodile has bitten its handler on the arm at a wildlife sanctuary near Townsville.

The 25-year-old Renee Robertson suffered serious injuries when the crocodile, a 2.5-metre female named Tipper, lashed out at the Billabong Sanctuary shortly after 3:30pm.

“The guys here did a great job, as far as primary assessment,” paramedic Ross Macdonald said.

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“We didn’t get to visualise the wound, but I suspect a crocodile bite would be quite nasty.”

Ms Robertson was taken to the Townsville Hospital in a stable condition and onlookers were treated for shock.

Ms Robertson had been working at the park for one year and was being trained to feed crocodiles and become a safety officer at the park.

Billabong Sanctuary owner Bob Fleming was emotional after the attack. Photo: ABC

She is a mammal specialist and has overall responsibility for the health, husbandry and housing of the native mammal collection.

It has been about 20 years since the last attack and owner Bob Fleming said Tipper would not be put down.

“It’s a very emotional time for everybody, the staff are feeling deeply for Renee,” he said.

“As Tipper is a crocodile, she’s certainly not going to be euthanised, we’ll just review our training procedures and ensure it never happens again.”

PETA campaign coordinator Claire Fryer said she was saddened but not surprised by the attack.

“Zoos give people the false idea that these animals are somehow domesticated and able to be used and abused for our entertainment,” she said.

“Captivity does not extinguish an animal’s instincts.

“Attacks by captive crocodiles on people – which occur with staggering regularity – illustrate the profound levels of stress, anxiety and agitation that these animals experience every day of their lives.”

Last week, a crocodile measuring 4.7 metres in length and weighing between 500-600 kilograms had been released into the Sanctuary, however the owners confirmed it was not responsible for the attack.

Beaches along Townsville’s popular Strand had been closed at the beginning of February when Jupiter was spotted swimming about 50 metres offshore.

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