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Alligator Bites Off Fla. Man’s Arm

September 24, 2002 GMT

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ An alligator bit off a man’s right forearm, which was retrieved from the animal’s stomach but was too damaged to reattach, wildlife officials said Tuesday.

Don Goodman, the director of the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, was weeding a water lily garden Monday when the 11-foot alligator bit his arm off from just below his elbow, said Justin Lagotic, spokesman for Alachua County Fire Rescue.

About an hour after the attack, wildlife officials harpooned the male alligator, known as Mo-Jo by garden employees, said John Duncan, an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Authorities shot the alligator and slit its stomach open, finding Goodman’s arm inside. The arm was taken to Shands Hospital at the University of Florida but doctors could not reattach it, botanical garden spokeswoman Barbara Bennett said.

Goodman was in fair condition Tuesday, hospital officials said.

``When I saw him, there is a certain degree of shock,″ said Dr. Larry Chidgey, an orthopedic surgeon at Shands. ``He was pretty fuzzy about the details.″

The gator probably attacked because it mistook Goodman’s hand for another animal, said Gabe Duclos, a gardener at Kanapaha.

Goodman has been the director of the gardens since 1978. It was the first alligator attack at the 62-acre park, owned by Alachua County and maintained by the North Florida Botanical Society.

There have been five reported alligator attacks in Florida this year, but no deaths. Since 1948, there have been 300 attacks; 12 were fatal.

Florida’s last fatal alligator attack was in September 2001, when an 81-year-old man bled to death after his right leg was bitten off below the knee.