Shoalhaven Zoo owner Nick Schilko says handler Trent Burton's actions in falling on top of a crocodile that had hold of his arm during a school holiday show forced the 300kg creature to release its grip.
Mr Burton, 31, suffered puncture wounds to both hands after being bitten and dragged into the water of the croc’s enclosure during the popular feeding show at the North Nowra zoo.
He was performing one of the regular crocodile feeding shows at about noon on Monday when the 3.7 metre male grabbed him by the hand and dragged him into the water in the enclosure in front of horrified spectators.
Mr Schilko has recounted the horrifying moment when the 65kg handler was grabbed by the croc.
“Trent was feeding the croc but he wasn’t moving and Trent was hoping to get him to move forward and encouraged him with food,” he said.
“He flipped the food at his [the crocodile’s] face. He caught it in his mouth and as he’s tried to flick it up to put it in his mouth further, Trent tried to reached and take it out of his mouth.
“Why you do that I don’t know? Basically his hand got caught in the moment – the crocodile has gone bonus and started backing up to the water and dragged him all the way to the water. Trent fell into the water, onto the crocodile and from Trent’s words ‘landing on the crocodile coincided with him letting go’.
“Trent then sprung out of the water.
“And that was awesome – the best case scenario you could ever imagine.”