Have you ever seen a man wrestle an alligator? It is a one part fear, one part adrenaline-infusing spectacle that is a combination of snapping jaws, thrashing tails, adroit and evasive human movements and audible gasps from an enthralled audience.
Despite how touristy this ancient American Indian art has become, everyone still watches this man-beast tangle transfixed because of the underlying awareness that something could go horribly wrong.
And it has. Ask Chief Jim Billy, the charismatic and controversial former leader of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. He lost a ring finger to a six-foot gator in a 2000 exhibition and was bitten on the buttocks some 17 years earlier by another, even though it is reported he grew up wrestling alligators for food and profit from the tender age of five.
I’ve watched alligator wrestling at Billie Swamp Safari, an outback tourist attraction on the indian reservation; at Everglades Holiday Park, and in Fort Lauderdale back when the Jungle Queen Riverboat used to stop at a little island along the Intercoastal.
Whenever you get the chance to, you should check one of those snarling alligators out.
A few alligator facts:
- Alligators are native to the United States and China.
- An average adult American alligator’s weighs 790 lbs ( 360 kg)
- Alligator wrestling is a part of ancient Seminole tradition as early tribe members hunted alligators for their hides and for food.
- I’ve HEARD the meat tastes like chicken but I’m too chicken to find out for myself. Have any of you tried it? Is it really true? Share pictures!