In Australia only.
Matt Wright is famous for risking his life to move alligators and other dangerous critters on his National Geographic show “Outback Wrangler.” However, the Australian wildlife expert is now being accused of endangering the safety of his son as well as being filmed hitting a child with a large snake.
“Learning the ropes,” reads the caption of the controversial clip, which was uploaded to Instagram last week by a former Australian Army soldier and crocodile egg collector.
The nerve-wracking footage shows Wright’s 2-year-old son Banjo on a lawn tugging the tail of a giant olive python – Australia’s second largest snake with a maximum length of more than 10 feet. At one point, the giant constrictor, who is several times the size of the boy, tries to wrap himself around a wooden pole, urging Dad to banjo “get him out”.
After staring at the snake for several seconds, the terrified tot runs towards Wright, who is standing near the snake’s head. The “award winning tour operator” instructs the banjo to return to the reptile’s tail while avoiding the snake’s teeth.
“Hurry up, hold him, he’s going to bite Dad,” Wright yells as his son scrambles to the back end.
The reptile curling stunt left the audience divided, with many accusing the TV host of endangering their children.
“Everything about this is silly and wrong,” denounced one disapproved commenter.
Another critic wrote, “This child is not old enough to judge exactly which snakes are safe and which are not.”
“A snake is not a toy,” protested one gawker, while another wrote, “in America they would call child services qualified.”
However, other armchair animal experts commended Wright for exposing his son to nature early.
One fan said, “He’s teaching her not to fear at such a young age and to respect the animal gently and humanely.”
Others compared the banjo to a kiddie version of the late “crocodile hunter” Steve Irwin, who sparked a similar controversy in 2004 after holding his then-baby son Bob and feeding a crocodile.
This isn’t the first time the celebrity beast master has ventured into hot water to handle his animals. In 2017, Wright was charged with animal cruelty after allegedly duct-taping the jaws of a 16-foot alligator that he caught from an Australian marsh.
However, like in the case of his son handling a snake, fans were quick to flock to the croc catcher’s rescue.
One defender wrote, “Noting that most of the times these crocodiles are being moved because they have collided with humans/animals and so if the good guys don’t move them, someone will shoot it.”
Another commented, “The tape is there to protect those who move the animal. It is never taped over the nostrils or eyes.”