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Heart-stopping moment petting zoo visitor jumps in to save handler when an alligator latches onto her wrist and pulls her into a death roll in front of child's birthday party

Video taken Saturday by a guest shows Donnie Wiseman, 48, (pictured in yellow shirt) jumping into the water and climbing on top of the reptile in an effort to assist the handler

A Utah reptile center employee is recovering after an alligator yanked her into its enclosure during a presentation at a birthday party, thrashing her around before a fast-acting visitor leapt inside and helped free her from its jaws.

Video taken Saturday by a guest shows an unidentified handler at Scales & Tails in Salt Lake City talking to some adults and children about the alligator when it bit her hand, dragged her into the water and pulled her into a death roll. 

One of the guests, Donnie Wiseman, 48, jumped into the water and climbed on top of the reptile in an effort to assist the handler. 

Shane Richins, the company's owner, said in an interview Monday that the handler was opening the enclosure to feed the alligator as usual, but this time the reptile 'got a little extra spunky.'

A Utah reptile center employee is recovering after an alligator yanked her into its enclosure during a presentation at a birthday party, thrashing her around before a fast-acting visitor leapt inside and helped free her from its jaws.

Video taken Saturday by a guest shows an unidentified handler at Scales & Tails in Salt Lake City talking to some adults and children about the alligator when it bit her hand, dragged her into the water and pulled her into a death roll. 

One of the guests, Donnie Wiseman, 48, jumped into the water and climbed on top of the reptile in an effort to assist the handler. 

Shane Richins, the company's owner, said in an interview Monday that the handler was opening the enclosure to feed the alligator as usual, but this time the reptile 'got a little extra spunky.'

Shocking moment alligator attacks handler at kids birthday party
A Utah reptile center employee is recovering after an alligator yanked her into its enclosure during a presentation at a birthday party, thrashing her around before a fast-acting visitor leapt inside and helped free her from its jaws
Video taken Saturday by a guest shows Donnie Wiseman, 48, (pictured in yellow shirt) jumping into the water and climbing on top of the reptile in an effort to assist the handler

Video taken Saturday by a guest shows Donnie Wiseman, 48, (pictured in yellow shirt) jumping into the water and climbing on top of the reptile in an effort to assist the handler

Richins said the center normally has a strict policy for a second handler to be nearby when employees are working with the alligators. 

However, that hasn't been enforced in recent years if the worker isn't planning to enter the enclosure, he said.

'We still enforce it strictly whenever somebody gets in with the gator but, of course, going forward, we will be back to strictly enforcing it with any interactions with the gator for that very reason,' Richins said.

After pulling the handler into its pen, the alligator began whipping around and kept its jaws clamped on her as she struggled to break free.

That was when Wiseman sprang into action to help the handler.  

'I'm just like, "What do I do? What do I need to do,"' Wiseman told Gephardt Daily. 'And I got on him, just like in all the movies and documentaries I've seen.' 

Another bystander ushered the children, all six or younger,  away as they cried, the video showed.

Wiseman got the alligator pinned, and the handler calmly gave him and another man, Todd Christopher, instructions to help her escape from the pool

Wiseman got the alligator pinned, and the handler calmly gave him and another man, Todd Christopher, instructions to help her escape from the pool

The entrance of Scales and Tails Utah is shown on Monday in West Valley City

The entrance of Scales and Tails Utah is shown on Monday in West Valley City

Wiseman got the alligator pinned, and the handler calmly gave him and another man, Todd Christopher, instructions to help her escape from the pool. 

Wiseman stayed on top of the reptile until the woman was freed.

'I'm glad he wasn't any bigger,' Wiseman said, with a laugh. 'We would have been in trouble. I would say he was about seven feet. I'm 6'3', and he had me beat by a bit.' 

Christopher's wife, who has a background in nursing, then began performing first aid before emergency crews arrived at the scene.

Richins said the handler underwent surgery and is taking antibiotics.

The West Valley City business said Sunday she is 'doing well and is in recovery.' According to its website, Scales & Tails Utah is a family-run operation that provides educational presentations on reptiles, birds, spiders and scorpions.

'These gentlemen could have stayed in the safety zone as most of us would, but instead jumped into the situation, of their own volition, and helped secure the alligator,' the company said in a statement. 

'Their help, combined with the training of our staff member, probably saved her life and her limbs.'

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Comment by Jeffrey L Donovan on August 19, 2021 at 3:28pm

Vaughn Mitchell, you nailed it with your comment about these animals belonging in the wild. People foreget that is why they are called wild animals. And imagine sometimes even our domesticated animals and pets go off on us sometimes. Animals will be animals.

Comment by vaughn mitchell on August 17, 2021 at 5:23pm
They belong in the wild, they are not pets. Only white people.
Comment by audrey cumberbatch on August 17, 2021 at 4:32pm
Stop messing with these dangerous things
Comment by caribmama on August 17, 2021 at 4:31pm

I'm good, I'm fine, said the girl in what animals mouth. LOL! Not every man would have jumped in that enclosure.

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