Zoo handler recovering from tiger attack

A Queensland zoo handler continues to recover after being bitten by a tiger he had raised from a cub.

The 114-kilogram Bengal tiger, Charlie, became “overexcited” and bit his handler Dave Styles on the neck and shoulder during a tiger show at Australia Zoo on Tuesday afternoon.

The zoo says Mr Styles is recovering and in a stable condition at a Brisbane hospital.

“Australia Zoo would like to thank everybody for the support that they have shown to Dave and his family,” a spokeswoman said in a statement on Thursday.

Management at the Sunshine Coast zoo, owned by the family of late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, was still investigating the incident and reviewing its safety policies and procedures.

The handler was wearing a blue poncho outfit when he was attacked and zoo director Wes Mannion said six-year-old Charlie mistook him for a toy.

“We don’t try and stop them from biting the toys they play with and, like I said, it was an accident,” he said.

“He didn’t think he had a human, he thought he had a toy.”

Mr Mannion did not say whether it was the first time the tiger had been introduced to the outfit.

“Charlie definitely has his own personality and shows it when he is interacting with the handlers at our Tiger Temple,” the zoo’s website said.

“Charlie will sit back in most cases and take in what’s going on around him, then join in when he is ready.”

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