Shock: Oleg Grishchenko (pictured before the attack) was caught unaware when the elephant named Tandy charged at him. He suffered serious crush injuries and had to have his arm amputated
A renowned Ukrainian animal expert had to have his arm amputated after being crushed by an angry elephant.

Oleg Grishchenko, 39, has worked with elephants all his life and is considered one of the most knowledgeable handlers in eastern Europe.

But he was caught unaware when the animal, called Tandy, became extremely and unexpectedly agitated, charging at him at a zoo in the city of Kharkov, in eastern Ukraine.

Friends and family have appealed for money to help Mr Grishchenko pay for his operation and take time off to come to terms with his injuries.

Head of the Department of Elephants and Hippos Yuri Danilenko, 46, said: 'It all happened very quickly. God knows how exactly, it was a pure accident.'

Working with elephants is notoriously dangerous and there have been many accidents and deaths in the UK and abroad involving the animals which weigh several tons.

Some believe illness can make them snap, while others think small enclosures can lead to bad tempered animals suddenly cracking under the strain of captivity.

Mr Grishchenko had been working at the zoo since 1993, without incident and was considered an expert in communicating with and understanding the animals.

His injury after the elephant knocked him over and stamped on his arm was so severe that doctors were forced to amputate it at the elbow.

Tandy was the first elephant born in the Ukraine when she came into the world on July 19, 1998 in Odessa Zoo.

The zoo has decided not to put her down after the unexplained incident.