A Utah reptile center employee is recovering after an alligator named “Darth Gator” attacked her Saturday during a child’s birthday party as she was attempting to feed it.
A guest, Theresa Wiseman, was recording video when the handler, who did not want to be identified by name, was attempting to feed the alligator when it bit her hand and dragged her into the water. Once in the water, the alligator went into a death roll.
Theresa’s husband, Donnie Wiseman, yelled “we got trouble in here” and then jumped into the enclosure. A second man, identified as Todd Christopher, assisted from outside the enclosure.
The children, who were clearly terrified, can be heard crying in the video.
Donnie jumped onto the alligator’s back as the handler calmly gave him instructions on how to free her hand.
Once free, Todd pulled the handler from the water.
The handler then gave Donnie instructions on how to get out of the enclosure.
Shane Richins, the owner of Scales & Tails Utah, said Monday that the handler was opening the enclosure to feed the alligator as usual, but this time the reptile “got a little extra spunky.”
The handler had to undergo surgery and is currently on antibiotics. She is expected to make a full recovery.
In a statement, the handler told her boss, Shane:
“I got lucky to land in a hospital that employs what has to be the best orthopedic surgeon in Utah. He was able to improvise and come up with a solution that should result in full use of my hand. I can’t explain the level of admiration I have for that man.
“I’m being treated aggressively with antibiotics, which I’m thankful the Infectious Disease staff here were prepared to do. Lastly, I’ve had the most wonderful nursing staff that have made me feel safe and comfortable since I got here.
“I definitely want to thank everyone that has reached out and for doing so, as well; it’s made recovery feel so much more manageable! Thank you!”
Sahne said, “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. Their help, combined with the training of our staff member, probably saved her life and her limbs.”
The alligator will not be harmed.