THE owner of a Queensland reptile park who has his thumb bitten off by a saltwater crocodile on Sunday owes his life to the quick-thinking actions of a colleague.
Ian Jenkins was doing a daily feeding show at the Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo near Childers just before 1pm, when a four metre long croc called Macca snapped at his left hand.
The croc dragged Mr Jenkins into the water, tearing off his thumb and causing him to hit his head as he fell, Fairfax reported.
His wife Barbara told the ABC Radio, Mr Jenkins paid the price for taking his eyes off Macca for a split second.
"No grudges against Macca - it's a horrible thing to happen - an absolute warning for Ian," she said.
Mrs Jenkins said her husband owed his life to a quick-thinking colleague.
"We had another very experienced crocodile person in the enclosure doing the show and if it wasn't for very quick thinking, getting the attention away from Ian, it would have been a lot worse," she said.
"Ian will be very disappointed in himself. He made an error of judgement and you can't afford to do that with four-metre crocodiles."
Mrs Jenkins said she felt terrible that park visitors saw the attack.
"No-one should have to see that sort of thing. It would have been very frightening for children," she said.
In 2010, Mr Jenkins survived a bite from a venomous eastern brown snake at the zoo.
Man bitten by crocodile at Childers reptile park
SNAKES Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo co-owner Ian Jenkins has been airlifted to Bundaberg Hospital after being attacked by a crocodile during a live feeding show, losing his left thumb in the process.
An RACQ CareFlight spokesman said the 58-year-old crocodile handler was attempting to gain the attention of a croc with his hat in his left hand and a chicken in his right hand during the performance, when the crocodile leapt out of the water and bit his left hand pulling him into the water, amputating his left thumb and part of his hand down to his wrist.
Mr Jenkins also received head injuries from falling into the water.
The Flight paramedic administered pain relief for the serious hand injury as well as the head injury and was airlifted to Bundaberg Hospital in a stable condition where he underwent surgery to his hand.
EARLIER: RACQ CareFlight's Bundaberg rescue helicopter has been tasked to Snakes Down Under Reptile Park this afternoon after reports of a man being been bitten by a crocodile.
More information to come