COUNTDOWN’S Rachel Riley left behind her glamorous TV lifestyle to spend an afternoon grappling with 6ft crocs at an animal sanctuary.

Maths wizard Rachel, 27, visited DWARF (Dangerous and Wild Animal Facility) in Great Wakering on Sunday. She helped with the annual check up of Caiman Crocodiles Tick and Tock.

Sanctuary manager Jamie Tritton, who volunteers at the centre, said: “She was really nice. It’s rare for someone like that to get on and want to hold the animals. I was surprised but she was more than happy to.

“The Caimans can be nasty and do a lot of damage but they were taped and had been out of the pool for an hour so were calm when she held the female which was around 6ft.”

Tick and Tock, who were named by pupils at Great Wakering primary school, were given a clean bill of health before being returned to their pool.

They are set to move on to a new home at a British zoo later this year.

The former Southend High School for Girls pupil grew up in Thorpe Bay and her family are friends with Iain Newby who runs Dwarf.

Rachel’s brother Alex used to volunteer there before studying for a zoology PHD.

She tweeted after her encounter: “Got up close and from the looks of this photo a bit too personal with some caiman today! Thanks friends @DwarfSanctuary.”