A zoo worker had his forearm reattached Thursday after his colleagues recovered the severed limb from the mouth of a 440-pound Nile crocodile, an official said.

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The crocodile severed Chang Po-yu's forearm on Wednesday at the Shaoshan Zoo in the southern city of Kaohsiung when the veterinarian tried to retrieve a tranquilizer dart from the reptile's hide, zoo officials said.

The Liberty Times newspaper said Chang failed to notice the crocodile was not fully anesthetized when he stuck his arm through an iron rail to medicate it.

As Chang was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday, a zoo worker shot two bullets at the crocodile's neck to retrieve the forearm, said Chen Po-tsun, a zoo official.

"The crocodile was unharmed as we didn't find any bullet holes on its hide," Chen said. "It probably was shocked and opened its mouth to let go of the limb."

The 17-year-old reptile is one of a pair of Nile crocodiles kept by the Kaohsiung zoo. The crocodile is listed as an endangered species, and is rapidly disappearing from its native African habitat.

Chen said the zoo purchased the crocodile from a local resident who had kept it as a pet.