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Man denies throwing live chicken to alligators at park

A man accused of throwing a beloved chicken known as Betty White into an alligator pen while visiting a wildlife park in regional NSW will face a hearing to decide if he is guilty of animal cruelty.

The case against Peter William Smith, 57, of Hunterview, was briefly mentioned in Raymond Terrace Local Court on Monday.

Defence lawyer Bryan Wrench, appearing via video link, confirmed Smith, would maintain his not guilty plea to one count of aggravated animal cruelty.

The 57-year-old was not in court because he was legally represented.

Mr Wrench indicated there would be four prosecution witnesses and two defence witnesses. He estimated the hearing would take three hours.

Magistrate Justin Peach set down the hearing for September 24.

Raymond Terrace Local Court (file image)
Peter William Smith will face hearing later this year over an animal cruelty charge. (Darren Pateman/AAP PHOTOS)

Smith allegedly committed an act of aggravated cruelty on the silkie bantam chook between 2.57pm and 3.10 pm on January 2 at the Oakvale Farm and Fauna World at Salt Ash, in the NSW Hunter region.

Police had attended the wildlife park after reports the much-loved chicken, known as Betty White, had been snatched from an enclosure and thrown into the alligator pen in front of shocked families.

In a statement after the hen was killed, Oakvale Farm owner Kent Sansom said management and staff had been deeply saddened by Betty White's fate.

"This is the first time in our 43 years that we have had a member of the public (allegedly) engage in such cruelty in what is an animal sanctuary," he said.

"Betty White was hand-raised at the park and had played a crucial role in our endangered-species breeding program for the bush stone curlew and other species by providing surrogacy to the chicks.

"Her quiet nature means she would not hesitate to approach a customer for some animal pellets, making her an easy target."