A young boy was attacked by a wedge-tailed eagle at a birds of prey show in Australia.

The boy, believed to be about seven, was left with a bleeding gash on his face after the eagle swooped during a birds of prey show at the Alice Springs Desert Park last week.

Horrified witnesses said the boy, who was visiting the animal park with his family from NSW, was wearing a camouflage jacket at the time.

Christine O'Connelly captured the terrifying moment in a photograph which she later shared online.


Captioning the image, she wrote: "At a nature park in Alice Springs we decided to go to a bird show the young boy in the green kept pulling his zipper up and down.

"For some reason the wedge-tailed Eagle did not like it and instead of flying over to the log he is meant to for a photo opportunity he flew straight at the young boy and attacked him. The show was quickly cancelled and the boy taken off to first aid. Those talons are huge he was a very lucky young boy."

Others said it may have been confused by the colour of his hoodie.

Tourist Keenan Lucas said: "The bird flew over the crowd and tried to grab on to a young boy's head," tourist Keenan Lucas said.

"It looked as if the bird tried to pick him up like a small animal and take off with him." Mr Lucas said the boy was screaming and his mother was distraught.

The park was unable to confirm what had prompted the attack on Tuesday, saying the incident was "under investigation".

"On Wednesday, July 6, an incident occurred at the Alice Springs Desert Park where an eagle made contact with an audience member.

"A thorough investigation regarding the circumstances behind this incident is under way and the eagle will be removed from the show while this investigation is ongoing," a Parks and Wildlife spokesman for the NT government said.

They added it was the first time the bird had ever attacked an audience member at one of its shows.

Eagle encounters are a popular attraction at the outback park where visitors can pay to get up close with the birds.

The wedge-tailed eagle is one of the largest eagles in the world and Australia's largest living bird of prey.

The birds can have a wing span of 2.3 metres and eat both live prey and carrion.

The species is protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 but was hunted for years by farmers because it is prone to killing sheep.

In 2007 two of the birds attacked a British paraglider taking part in a competition in Manilla, northern NSW.