Alligator Bites Florida Wildlife Park Director’s Hand Resulting In Amputation; Second Alligator Attack In Ten Years

Alligator Bites Florida Wildlife Park Director’s Hand Resulting In Amputation; Second Alligator Attack In Ten Years

Almost 10 years after an alligator ripped most of a Florida wildlife park director’s right arm off, the reptile expert completely lost his left hand after enduring another alligator attack earlier this month.

Greg Graziani, wildlife director of Florida Gator Gardens in Venus, Florida, was “seriously injured during a routine interaction” with a large alligator on August 17, according to a Facebook post from the facility.

The wildlife director told CNN that the attack happened during a routine training session when a leaf from the surrounding trees fell and came in between himself and the reptile. The unexpected movement caused the alligator to snap, lunge forward, and chomp down on his hand, which he had already placed underneath the alligator’s jaw to give it a command.

“Lack of visibility was the problem,” he said.

And once Garziani’s hand was inside the gator’s mouth, its instinct was to pull back, which the wildlife director said wasn’t “malice” behavior.

Graziani then commanded the reptile to back off and release his hand.

“Had this been a totally wild alligator with no training, it would’ve been a lot worse,” he said.

The last time Graziani almost lost a limb was during an incident when a rope attached to an alligator caught his right arm as the animal rolled and pulled him into its trap in 2013. But clearly, it didn’t stop the man from continuing to work with the massive reptiles, which he had been passionate about since he was seven years old.

Florida Gator Gardens on Facebook said animal workers always face risks while working with such creatures, which Graziani and his family have always accepted.

“We are working with an animal where collaboration and training between species is something that is taught, and it usually goes against quite a few natural instincts,” the facility wrote. “This is true for all of them — from the nuisance alligators down even to our terrier.”

The facility reported that after the alligator partially amputated Graziani’s left arm, authorities immediately flew him to Tampa General Hospital for treatment.

There, surgeons spent over nine hours reattaching his arm by creating new vessels for blood flow and putting in plates to hold the bone fragments together. However, Graziani’s injury was so severe that it left his hand connected by one tendon and some muscle that the surgeon had to untwist six times during the initial surgery.

Gator Gardens officials said surgeons performed a below-the-elbow amputation, including a procedure that rerouted his nerves from the amputated limb, which helps eliminate phantom pain and sets him up for prosthetics options in the future.

“As great as it would have been to preserve the hand, we are thrilled to finally have a date to go home next week and move forward with all of the amazing projects we have been pouring our hearts into these last couple of years,” wrote the facility.

Graziani told CNN that he hopes to return home on Wednesday and continue working with the alligators. His goal has always been to educate the public about the species.

“They don’t have vengeance, they work on instinct,” he told CNN, adding that living with the reptiles “is definitely something that can be done safely.”

“This was an occupational hazard, not a public safety issue,” Graziani said.

The facility said it would review protocols to prevent further incidents for the safety of its staff.

“This incident could have just as easily been a fatal tragedy,” Florida Gator Gardens wrote on its Facebook.

And as far as the alligator involved, the facility said, “he was uninjured and will continue to stay here with us as a valued member of the zoo.”