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Why are we still dangling people in front of crocodiles for kids' entertainment?

Feature image via Tourist Maker.

‘Be amazed as our keepers hand-feed John, our biggest croc’, promises Shoalhaven Zoo’s website‘. Ouch.

I’m very happy to hear that crocodile handler Trent Burton escaped with just a few little “holes” in his hand after he was attacked by one of his giant, scaly charges yesterday.

Burton is a very experienced handler and has been working with the crocs at the zoo on the NSW South Coast for more than 10 years. But surely, no matter how experienced and careful you are, if you dangle food in front of big crocodiles for long enough, one day one of them is going to turn around and bite you on the… hand.

This picture was posted on the Shoalhaven Facebook Page

Here’s the question: Why are two giant crocs being hand-fed in an enclosure at a zoo in 2014? And why are we taking our kids to see them?

Imagine what it was like for the children who saw Trent Burton being grabbed by the hand by a 3.7-metre crocodile, thrown to the floor and then dragged into the water.

Imagine what is was like when they then saw the clearly-terrified Burton come running out of the water with his bleeding hand, to be rescued and taken away to hospital.

Michelle Brady was there, with her two daughters, and she told Fairfax newspapers today that, “The trainer was feeding him meat and the crocodile took it before the designated area to be fed. The trainer tried to take it out of the crocodile’s mouth and the croc just grabbed his hand and pulled him to the ground and dragged him into the water.”

“Then the trainer got free and got out of the water. He had puncture holes in his hand,” she said.

I totally understand the thrill of having a close encounter with a beast as big as your car. They’re powerful and impressive, and remind us of our place on the food chain. And kids love them.

But seriously, my kids are amazed enough to see animals up close, they don’t need to see people playing chicken with them, too. They don’t need to see keepers putting their lives at risks to make the animals interesting.

Just throw the damn chickens over the (very sturdy) fence, guys.

This post was originally published on iVillage Australia, but has been republished here with full permission

Would you take your children to see a crocodile show?

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