Visitors at a family-operated reptile and bird educational center are being praised for their quick-thinking resolve after a trainer’s harrowing encounter with a large alligator.
The handler at Scales and Tails in Utah, as detailed in a local ABC4 report, is first seen in footage taken by guest Theresa Wiseman approaching the alligator before ultimately having her hand trapped in its mouth. The gator, which a separate CBS report notes is known as “Darth Gator,” doesn’t let go.
At this point, a bystander—since identified as Donnie Wiseman, Theresa’s husband—is seen asking the gator handler what he can do to help while also calling out for assistance. Within seconds, he enters the tank himself, following the handler’s instructions as he places his body on top of the gator to prevent rolling. While the trainer’s hand remains trapped for roughly a minute, she is ultimately able to free it, ultimately pulled to safety by another witness, later identified as Todd Christopher.
“These gentleman could have stayed in the safety zone as most of us would, but instead jumped into the situation, of their own volition, and helped secure the alligator,” a Scales and Tails rep, who also shouted out Todd’s wife Amy for helping with first aid, said in a Facebook post over the weekend. “Their help, combined with the training of our staff member, probably saved her life and her limbs.”
Monday, Scales and Tails shared an update from the trainer, who is currently recovering in a hospital.
“I definitely want to thank everyone that has reached out and for doing so. … It’s made recovery feel so much more manageable!” the trainer said.
Amazingly, the trainer is expected to regain full use of the injured hand.
Below, see the full video showing the daring rescue efforts in action: