Four-Year-Old Boy Bitten While Trying to Pat a Crocodile in Zoo Enclosure

A four-year-old boy is recovering after being bitten by a crocodile while reaching into an Israeli zoo enclosure.

The child reportedly put his hand through a fence in an attempt to pat the predator when the animal attacked on Saturday.

"We were hanging around the park and having fun, and he probably wanted to go back in, I didn't really see," Hanan, the boy's mother, told N12 News. "I heard screams—I went over and his hand looked like it had been torn off".

The boy was pulled out of danger and treated at the scene by paramedics at the Crocoloco Crocodile Farm before being airlifted to a hospital to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

"When we arrived at the scene, we saw a 4-year-old boy in his mother's arms," MDA paramedic Gadi Gohar and MDA (Magen David Adom, Israel's emergency medical service) paramedic Danny Aviv told the Jerusalem Post. "He had suffered an injury to his hand and was in pain. We saw bite marks. People at the scene gave him first aid at the remote direction of an MDA paramedic and stopped his bleeding."

"With the help of an IDF medical force, we provided him with life-saving medical treatment along with pain medications and transferred using an MDA helicopter that landed nearby and evacuated him to Soroka Hospital when his condition was moderate-to-severe."

Surgeons were able to regain feeling in his hand, mend several of the broken bones and repair tissue, Dr. Yuri Kalasov, from Soroka's orthopedic surgery ward, said.

Downplaying the incident, the head Security Officer for the Central Arava Regional Council, Uri Lev, said the boy's hand was merely scratched after "defying the safety instructions" at the park.

"The instructions given at the entrance to the site are not to approach the fence and the pools and to watch from a distance of at least one meter," he said. "The instructions were translated into Arabic for the child by his mother."

"The boy wandered alone for a few moments, approached the young crocodiles' pool—defying the safety instructions—and put his hand through the fence. One of the young crocodiles grabbed his palm with his teeth and scratched it."

The park manager described the injury as being "equivalent to a dog bite, a bite along the hand. We put a bandage on him," telling N12 that "there is unnecessary hysteria here."

He has since been questioned by Dimona police over concerns of negligent endangerment and operating without a business license.

The boy is expected to undergo additional surgeries but is on the path to recovery, doctors said.

The Nature and Parks Authority released a statement after the incident, saying the farm "is a private place."

"The authority approves the possession of dangerous animals as long as their welfare is taken care of and escape prevention measures are taken. The owner of the facility is obliged to manage the risks and prevent risk to the public. The owner is well known and has years of experience possessing crocodiles, along with all of the proper permits."

Newsweek has contacted the Crocoloco Crocodile Farm for comment.

Crocodile attack
File photo: A full-grown adult crocodile bears it's impressive teeth. A four-year-old boy is recovering after he was bitten by a crocodile while reaching into an enclosure at a zoo in Israel. Eric Lafforgue/Getty