Australia

Tiger attacks keeper at 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin's zoo

Tweet by Terri Irwin saying: "Hot day @AustraliaZoo. One of our tigers got hot and bothered and scratched a keeper. Keeper is ok, tiger is ok." Image copyright Twitter / @TerriIrwin
Image caption Irwin's wife Terri tweeted about the incident shortly after it took place on Thursday morning

A tiger at an Australian zoo founded by the late conservationist Steve Irwin has attacked one of its keepers.

The man sustained puncture wounds to his hands and forehead.

Irwin's widow, Terri, later tweeted that the tiger had been "hot and bothered" and scratched the man, adding that both animal and keeper were "ok".

Irwin died in 2006 when a stingray barb punctured his chest while he was filming a documentary on the Great Barrier Reef.

Australia Zoo said in a statement that the animal, a 12-year-old male Sumatran tiger called Ranu, had "scratched" the keeper while walking through bushland at the zoo during a routine morning session.

Ranu "became overly interested in his surroundings and when his handler approached him to change direction, he swatted his paw resulting in a scratch on his left wrist, bicep and right side of the forehead," the statement said.

Ambulance service officials told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the 41-year-old keeper had sustained "two deep puncture wounds and deep scratches". He was treated at the scene and later taken to the hospital.

Image copyright Getty Images / Australia Zoo
Image caption The Australia Zoo, founded by Steve Irwin, promotes conservation and has a tiger attraction

"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin and his family founded the Australia Zoo in Queensland. Ranu is part of an attraction called The Tiger Temple which houses Sumatran and Bengal tigers.

The zoo said both tiger and keeper are doing well, and that the keeper would be returning to work "in the coming days".

As for Ranu, he will be continuing his normal "enrichment routines" at the zoo.

In its profile on Ranu on its website, the zoo called the tiger "cheeky" and said he "is continually challenging the others around him".

"With Ranu, the handlers have to keep in mind that he is the boss and it is very important to be patient with him," it said.

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