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Alligator Wrestler

Chris Gillette is a wrestler of the most outrageous kind. He doesn’t compete on the wrestling circuit or at the Olympics; instead, his combatants of choice are alligators. Alligators are all over the place in Florida, where Gillette grew up. You can see them on golf courses or in neighborhood parks—just about anywhere, really. He and his wife are two of the world’s leading experts on alligators. And while Gillette does not put a gator in a half-nelson choke hold, he

Dangers: Alligator wrestlers are subject to bites, infections, mauling, and other injuries. Did You Know? Unlike crocodiles, alligators are native to the United States.

enjoys educating the public about these wild and dangerous reptiles. Let’s be clear—wrestling is probably the wrong term to use. There’s no head- smacking or arm twisting. Instead, handlers like Gillette coax the animal to open its mouth. Gillette will then try to tuck the creature’s head under his chin. He’ll also hold the gator’s mouth open with his own chin while his arms are outstretched. Gillette began handling the reptiles to help pay for his college degree in environmental studies. He ended up at the Everglade Alligator Farm, where he entertains the crowd by “wrestling” the beasts. “I’ve been a professional alligator and crocodile handler for the last decade, and also run tours to safely get people up close to the gators and sharks,” he once told a reporter. Native Americans versus Gators Florida is home to thousands of alligators and to a number of attractions where people can “wrestle” with the reptiles. The Seminole and Miccosukee tribes have been wrestling alligators for decades, long before there were roadside attractions. The Miccosukee Indian Village is one of the most famous alligator-wrestling haunts in the state. You can also take an airboat ride through the Everglades or buy all sorts of trinkets at the village.

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