| GEO Amazing and Interesting|
Australian boy mauled by sea lion at zoo
| Updated at: 1106 PST, Saturday, September 04, 2010|
SYDNEY: An 11-year-old Australian boy was recovering in hospital Saturday after reportedly being left with a "dirty great hole in his belly" after being mauled by a sea lion during a show at a Sydney zoo.
Jack Lister may have scared the flippered animal when he moved behind it after being chosen from the audience to get up close to the creatures in the performance in front of hundreds of people, a spokesman for Taronga zoo said.
"Jack had stood back to walk away and the (sea lion) just turned around then lunged at him," stepmother Dalitta Wright told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.
"Jack pulled himself away and it then lunged for his back.
"It all happened so quickly... I heard the scream come from him... and started running towards him. It was quite traumatic."
Witnesses told the paper that the sea lion bit the boy, who then fell on the animal, prompting it to bite him again.
"He screamed out several times, as you would," witness Kate Miranda told the paper of the incident, which reportedly saw audience members scream and attempt to move away from the sea lion pool.
The boy, who underwent surgery for puncture wounds, was left with a "dirty great hole in his belly", his father, who was not named, told the paper.
Taronga said the eight-year-old animal involved had a long history of participating in encounters with audience members and had never displayed aggressive behaviour before.
The audience participation element of the show, which shows the animals diving gracefully and performing tricks for fish, has been suspended until an investigation into the attack has been completed, the zoo said.