Officials at the Cuyahoga County Fair Berea, closed down an alligator exhibit after one of the trainers who placed his arm in an alligator's mouth was attacked.
According to Fox8, the Kachunga & the Alligator Show ended its run at the Cuyahoga Couny Fair after the accident that happened Thursday. Company CEO Gil Castillo, said the trainer Danny Beck, was only performing a routine stunt.
Cleveland.com reports the attack happened at about 7:15 p.m. on August 9. After the trainer had placed an arm inside the alligator's mouth, it clamped its jaws shut. Another handler came to his aid, forcing the beast's mouth open with a bar.
The video shows the trainer Beck, placing his arm inside the gator’s mouth. Beck slips and falls and the animal clamps its jaws down on his arm.
Screams can be heard coming from the audience. Beck’s colleague, Albert Lucas, rushes to help. He tries to open the animal's jaws by tapping on its snout. When that fails, he grabs a bar and uses it to force the alligator's mouth open.
The video shows Beck rushing off the stage while Lucas addresses the crowd : “Well folks, these things happen. Dan’s going to get some medical care. We’ll be back tomorrow.”
According to company CEO Castillo, the gator reaction was only instinctive. Fox8 reports Castillo said: “It (Beck's arm) landed in the gator’s mouth so the gator did what they do and clamped down on his arm."
Members of the audience were stunned as they watched the alligator biting into Beck's arm. Fox8 reports that a member of the audience Johnny Minor, recorded the attack on his cellphone.
The alligator, according to Fox8, is a seven-and-a-half foot animal weighing 180 pounds and believed to be between 15 to 25 years old. According to company officials, this is the first time a performer is having trouble with the animal.
Cleveland.com reports Bob Sculac, the fair's director of entertainment, said the trainer was treated at the hospital and released last night.
Castillo said the company owns hundred of alligators and they rotate them for shows. He said the company has performed more than 100,000 shows around the world and that trainers are aware of the risks they take when they do stunts with alligators. According to Castillo, Beck is a seasoned trainer but he made a mistake. He said: "These things happen, we're all human."
Fox8 reports Johnny said he had a feeling something was going to happened. He said: “I don’t know what went wrong but something definitely happened.” Minor said it appeared to him at the moment the incident happened that the alligator was crushing Beck's arm. He told Fox8: "Oh man, I don’t even know, it was the craziest thing to ever see.”
Castillo, however, explained that experience saved Danny's arm. He said: "...he grabbed hold of the alligator when he bit him and kept him from being able to roll over, which would’ve caused severe damage.”
The show’s emcee Lucas, who is also a trainer, helped to free Danny’s arm from the gator’s jaws. Beck only suffered flesh wounds. The wounds were stitched at the hospital. He wanted to resume the show after he was released from hospital, but Cuyahoga County Fair officials thought it was best to cancel the show for the year.
According to Cleveland.com, the fair board officers had a conference with the alligator exhibit company and they "mutually agreed" to cancel the rest of the performances for the rest of the fair.
WTVR.com reports that a statement released Friday afternoon on behalf of the Cuyahoga County Fair, read: “Due to circumstances beyond our control and based upon current circumstances associated with animal exhibits, the Fair Board in cooperation with safety officials has determined that the alligator show is unable to continue at this week’s Fair. The Fair Board has and will continue to monitor all associated safety risks associated with exhibits and displays. As it does every year, the Fair Board continues to do its best to provide a safe and enjoyable atmosphere for all fairgoers, exhibitors and employees. Your understanding of this decision made by the Fair Board in the best interest of the public is appreciated."
According to Board President Tim Fowler, “One of our major concerns is the safety and wellbeing of people on our fairgrounds and we looked at this as a safety issue.”
But Castillos said no lives were in danger during the incident. He said, however, that he respects the decision of the board to cancel the show for the rest of the year. WTVR.com reports Lucas said the incident was not the alligator's fault. “The animal will not be destroyed. It wasn’t his fault,” he said. He said he hopes the show will return to Cuyahoga County in the future.
Minor also expressed desire to see the show again: “I hope the guy’s alright and I hope to see another gator show in my life."