SPECTATORS have spoken of the shocking moment a Sumatran tiger lashed out at its trainer at Australia Zoo this afternoon.
The trainer was believed to have been mauled following a tiger show about 3.15pm.
The man, believed to be aged 30, has been flown to the Royal Brisbane Hospital in a serious condition.
Up to 50 people witnessed the attack happen.
Among them was 14-year-old Jake D’Olimpio who had been watching the performance with his mother.
He told The Courier-Mail he saw the tiger jump on the front of its trainer and lunge at the man’s neck with his jaws.
“It was horrifying,” he said.
“They fell in the water and the tiger was trying to hold him under.
“The other trainers, maybe four of them, tried to fight the tiger off.
“One of them was hitting it with a stick.”
Jake said prior to the attack the handler had been patting and playing with the animal.
Australia Zoo director Wes Mannion said the zoo’s focus now was on the injured trainer and his family.
He said the man had wounds to his shoulder and the side of his neck.
“It was an accident,” he said.
“It was not an act of aggression.
“It was part of a routine and just an unfortunate mistake.”
When asked what would happen to the tiger, Mr Mannion said: “Nothing.”
EARLIER, the man was taken aboard the RACQ Careflight helicopter where he was being treated for a wound to the neck.
The helicopter landed at the zoo shortly after 3pm.
“They are treating the patient at the moment,” a spokeswoman said.
She said the man, believed to be aged 30, would be airlifted to hospital once the severity of his injuries had been assessed.
Australia Zoo keeps three Bengal and eight Sumatran tigers.
The zoo offers visitors photos with the tigers at 3:15pm every day for $ 400 per person.