File picture: Clinton Moodley

Vienna - A crocodile that had trapped a zookeeper's hand between its teeth was shot to death in Switzerland, the director of Zurich Zoo said on Wednesday.

The incident occurred on Monday when the female keeper was trying to clean the animal's enclosure.

As she removed the male Philippine crocodile from the area, it snapped her hand and did not let it go for several minutes.

The zoo therefore decided to kill the animal, which was 1.5 metres long and weighed around 15 kilograms, director Alex Ruebel told Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA.

The woman was still in hospital on Wednesday.

Philippine crocodiles are a rare species, with only 250 remaining in the wild.