A critically endangered crocodile was shot dead at a zoo in Switzerland after it bit a keeper’s hand and would not let go.

The Philippine crocodile, also known as the Mindoro crocodile, was shot and killed at Zurich Zoo after it trapped a keeper’s hand between its teeth.

The incident took place last Monday when the female zookeeper entered the animal’s enclosure to clean it, according to local media reports. 

The keeper tried to remove the male crocodile from the pen when the animal clamped its teeth around her hand and held it for several minutes. 

Zoo staff made the decision to kill the animal to save the keeper’s hand, according to Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger

The zoo keeper was taken to hospital and underwent surgery to her injuries and is said to be recovering well, local media states.

Zoo Director Alex Rubel said the reason for the animal’s aggressive behaviour has not been established.

He told Swiss newspaper Blick: ‘The well-being of our employee comes first.

‘Shooting the animal was the only way to free her [the zoo keeper’s] hand from the crocodile’s mouth.

‘According to the current updates, her hand could be saved [by doctors].’ 

Rubel also said it is the first time an animal had to be killed as a result of aggressive behaviour in his 30 years working at the zoo.

The Philippine species of crocodile is one of two types found in the Philippines, with the other being the larger saltwater crocodile.

The crocodile, which is nearly five feet long and weighs around 2.3st, is one of only 250 specimens left in the wild.

A female of the same species still lives in Zurich Zoo, Rubel said, but officials have not yet decided whether the zoo will look for a new male.

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