JACKSONVILLE, Fla — An employee at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is recovering after he was pulled into the water and bitten by one of the farm's gators.
The farm told First Coast News its Curator of Reptiles Jim Darlington was bitten while in the farm's swamp area. Darlington was in a canoe and going to retrieve a photographer's tripod when the 12-foot alligator grabbed Darlington by his elbow and pulled him into the water.
According to the Alligator Farm, Darlington broke free and was able to get to land. He was then taken to a hospital conscious, alert and in need of stitches.
The owner of the farm, John Brueggen, told First Coast News it is very rare for an alligator to attack someone in a canoe. He said staff members routinely visit the swamp without incident. Since the area is surrounded by trees and birds, Brueggen believes the alligator may have thought a baby bird had fallen into the water, prompting the attack.
The alligator will be left in the swamp, according to Brueggen. He said it was just behaving naturally and shouldn't be killed because of the incident.