Getting down on one knee is nerve-wracking with any kind of audience – but what if the significant witness is a 4.5m killer reptile who's just been baited with a hunk of red meat?

A keeper at a zoo in Australia decided the best way to prove he could protect his girlfriend from clear and present danger was to ask for her hand in marriage right beside a 'cranky', flesh-eating crocodile in his enclosure.

Billy Collett, a handler at the Australian Reptile Park, kicked off the momentous occasion by disturbing the water in front of Elvis, the 4.5m croc, before enticing him out of his pool with some fresh meat hanging on a stick.

He introduces his partner, Siobhan Oxley, to both Elvis and the audience as "the girl of my dreams" and says that she's there to help with the feeding.

After the giant reptile emerges out of the water, Collett turns his back on Elvis and – taking a sharp intake of breath – gets down on one knee and reaches into his pocket to present a ring to his girl.

He says: "Siobhan, I want to share the rest of my life with you, will you marry me?" Oxley tearfully agrees and the newly engaged couple embrace before the cheering crowd.

Heading back to feed Elvis, who didn't move a muscle during the emotional interlude, Collett remarks: "Oh man, that was worse than feeding the crocodiles."