Florida Gator Gardens, a licensed captive wildlife facility in Venus, which is 125 miles southeast of Tampa just released a statement on social media that one of their animal keepers had to get his arm amputated after he got bit by one of the large gators at the park.
“Any time you work with animals, there is always a risk. That is something Greg and the people who love him have always accepted,” the park wrote on Facebook. “This incident could have just as easily been a fatal tragedy.”
The park said this is the second alligator attack on the park’s director of wildlife, Greg Graziani in the last decade. Only this time, the alligator completely crushed his lower arm, and X-rays shared by Florida Gator Gardens showed in detail the severity of the man’s broken bones.
Greg was rushed to a hospital, where doctors found his hand dangling from one “tendon and some muscle that the surgeon had to untwist 6 times,” the park wrote on Facebook. Surgery lasted nine hours, and ended with “a below the elbow amputation preserving half of his forearm,” the park said.
Exactly what happened between the 53-year-old and the alligator is not yet known but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are actively investigating the incident. The commission said the incident happened around 7:30pm on August 17th.
Florida Gator Gardens noted that the first time an alligator broke Greg’s arm was in 2013 by a 7.5-foot female “nuisance” gator that he trapped and removed from someone’s property.
That alligator was tied up and being kept in a horse trailer when it suddenly went into a roll and trapped Greg’s arm in a rope that snapped his bones in multiple places.
At the time, his 12-year-old son had to cut him free from the alligator. It took him a long 18 months to recover from that injury.
“After almost losing his right arm in 2013, he only came back more determined to share his passion for reptiles with the world,” Florida Gator Gardens wrote on Facebook.“He has assured us that this (latest incident) is no different. Even through the pain and heavy medication, he is still preaching his reptile education to nurses, doctors, and visitors alike.”
Florida Gator Gardens says Greg plans to return to his job at the park and move forward with all of the “amazing projects” that the team has been pouring their hearts into over the past couple of years.
As for the alligator that bit him, the park says it will be there when Greg returns. They plan to keep it and take care of it as normal.
“He was uninjured and will continue to stay here with us as a valued member of the zoo,” park officials said.