The wildlife director of a zoo in Florida isn't planning on changing careers after losing part of one arm in his second serious alligator attack in less than 10 years. Florida Gator Gardens in Venus, 125 miles southeast of Tampa, said in a Facebook post last week that Greg Graziani was seriously injured on Aug. 17 "during a routine interaction with our large alligators." His left arm was partially amputated and then reattached, but that was followed by what the park says was "a below the elbow amputation preserving half of his forearm," the Tampa Bay Times reports. The park says surgeons rerouted the nerves in a way that "helps eliminates phantom pain and offers the option for prosthetics at very top of technological advancements and innovations."
Graziana, a 53-year-old former law enforcement officer, tells CNN that he was bitten during a routine training session. He says a leaf from surrounding foliage came loose when his hand was under the reptile's jaw. He says the creature lunged and then pulled back with his hand in its mouth—but it obeyed a command to release the hand. "Had this been a totally wild alligator with no training, it would've been a lot worse," says Graziani, who has worked with reptiles since he was 7 years old, according to the park. In 2013, multiple bones in his right arm were snapped when a "nuisance" alligator he had removed from somebody's property went into a roll, trapping his arm in a rope.
Graziani tells CNN that he's looking forward to getting back to work—although working one-handed will be a challenge. He says his team will review the incident and see if protocols need to be changed. "This was an occupational hazard, not a public safety issue," says Graziani. Alligators, he says, "don't have vengeance, they work on instinct," and he wants to continue educating the public. Florida Gator Gardens says the alligator was uninjured "and will continue to stay here with us as a valued member of the zoo." (Read more alligator stories.)