Alligator Grabs Handler at Child's Birthday Party, Dad Goes in to Help

A heroic dad came to the rescue after an alligator grabbed the hand of its handler, pulling her into its enclosure. The now-viral video shows the dad stepping in at the nick of time to wrestle the wild reptile.

An alligator at the Scales and Rails reptile Centre in West Valley City, Utah, went out of control during a five-year-old's birthday party. Its wild feat ended with the reptile grabbing the hands of a female zookeeper between its jaws and pulling her into the water, followed by a wild wrestle.

Footage of the incident available on YouTube showed several children surrounding the glass enclosure of the eight-foot-long animal called Darth Gator.

Photo of a man pinning down an alligator | Photo: youtube.com/globalnews

Photo of a man pinning down an alligator | Photo: youtube.com/globalnews

A female, believed to be the gator's keeper, lectured the kids about handling reptiles while they listened in amazement. The handler proceeded to open the glass door of the gator tank and did a hand signal motioning the reptile to step back.

The alligator was non-compliant, opting instead to attack the zookeeper. Once it had the woman's gloved hand between its jaws, the reptile struggled to return to the water, pulling the keeper along and attracting gasps from onlookers.

As she fought to free her hand, the animal tossed her roughly in the water while she held on for dear life, crossing her limbs around the reptile's torso.

Photo of an alligator in gator tank | Photo: youtube.com/globalnews

Photo of an alligator in gator tank | Photo: youtube.com/globalnews

Amid the struggle, Donnie Wiseman, a father present at the party, stood at the edge of the tank, calling for help. When none was forthcoming, the brave dad dove into the tank, directly on top of the gator, pinning it down.

The handler, who pleaded anonymity, is doing well and recovering in the hospital

The courageous man managed to hold the reptile's jaws from behind, with both arms, waiting patiently for the animal to let go of the keeper. After what seemed like ages, the flailing animal finally released the keeper's hand, and another bystander quickly pulled her out of the tank to safety.

Warning: The following video contains footage that might be disturbing for some viewers. Viewer discretion is advised.

With the handler saved, Donnie, still riding on the animal's back, tried to turn the animal away from the shore, leading to another wrestling round. He finally succeeded, thanks to instructions dictated by the zookeeper, and ran out of the tank immediately.

The entire scenario was captured by Donnie's wife, Theresa Wiseman. Another eyewitness, Amy Christopher, provided first aid to the keeper before first responders arrived.

Addressing the incident, the reptile center commended Donnie, Amy, and her husband for rescuing the zoo staff of their own volition. The establishment also confirmed the handler, who pleaded anonymity, is doing well and recovering in the hospital.

Photo of a man pinning down an alligator | Photo: youtube.com/globalnews

Photo of a man pinning down an alligator | Photo: youtube.com/globalnews

They also commended her for staying calm throughout the incident, like a true professional. Several YouTubers have also commended the zookeeper's professionalism even in the face of danger.

One person wrote: "Listen closely, then you can hear the woman tell the man to get on its back. Then she tells another man to hold her arm. She was in command the whole time even though she was the one bitten. Amazing."

Others commended the bystanders' bravery, especially Donnie, who wrestled the alligator with his bare hands and lived to tell the tale. A YouTube user commented: "Bystander's reptile brain kicked in. That was incredibly brave. What a legend!"

A user's comment on the viral video | Photo: youtube.com/globalnews

A user's comment on the viral video | Photo: youtube.com/globalnews

Some viewers assumed the entire scenario was a prank, with most using the medium to warn zookeepers to let wildlife remain in their natural habitats rather than enclosing them in cages and aquariums.

In a statement released by Reptiles and Tails, the keeper expressed how glad she was to receive care under the best orthopedic surgeon in Utah. She was hopeful that she would regain full use of her hand in no time.

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