Paramedics received an emergency call to the Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast at just after 11am to treat an animal handler that had been scratched by a tiger.
“We attended a wildlife park today. We were called to a male patient with two deep puncture wounds,” a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said.
“One of those wounds is not considered serious, but the other is more significant,” another officer added.
“The scratches were quite deep but haemorrhaging was controlled before paramedics arrived shortly before 11am,” the Queensland Ambulance Service’s Mark Fisher said.
Another spokesperson has described the scratches as “deep puncture” wounds. The 41-year-old man was treated at the scene in Beerwah, and then taken to Nambour Hospital conscious, and in a stable condition. Teri Irwin has downplayed the incident in a Twitter post.
This incident is not the first involving a big cat has occurred at Australia Zoo. Senior Handler Dave Styles, aged 33 at the time, was seriously injured by a tiger who became over-excited in November 2014. In that incident, Styles reportedly teased the animal on purpose, in order to “put on a better show” for the crowd of onlookers.
A Workplace Health and Safety investigation found that Mr Styles sustained a crushed carotid artery, nicked jugular, paralysis to the left larynx and nerve damage to the left eye when Charlie, a hybrid Bengal Sumatran tiger, got “over excited” during a routine show. The report also reveals the true extent of experienced keeper Dave Styles’ injuries which “could have resulted in a fatality”.
During the show, the tigers had “appeared less than enthusiastic to be involved in the display and so Styles acted in a manner to stimulate the tiger.Mr Styles admitted that he overly excited Charlie on this occasion which encouraged the tiger to play rougher than usual,” said the report, which was obtained under Right to Information laws. Mr Styles returned to working with tigers after several months off.
Of the 2013 incident, Wesley Mannion from Australia Zoo says the tiger was not being malicious. “It wasn’t an act of aggression. It wasn’t the tiger attacking someone, it’s just a normal, daily part of the routine of the tigers and unfortunately we had a mishap,” he said.
Australia Zoo is yet to comment on this morning’s incident.