Wildlife park’s aide hand feeds these half-ton creatures, found throughout the South.
VIDEO: Jawsome: The Reptile Expert Who Strokes A Giant ‘Gator Called Jaws
Alligators are scary creatures to most people.
But one theme park worker enjoys being close to one of her favorites, named Jaws.
“My mom and dad and most of my friends think I’m crazy,” she said. “But I think they’re now getting a better picture of things lately, and they’ve calmed down about it.”
“The first time I ever saw an alligator was when I was a very young girl, about four or five, while on vacation at Gatorland. Being up close and personal with our animals at Gatorland is a dream come true for me,” said Boan, an international ambassador for Gatorland Global Conservation.
“Alligators are social beings and often come together in congregations called groups. Typically, these groups are seen sunbathing or swimming. Externally, alligators control their temperature. They are ectothermic or cold-blooded, just like most reptiles.“ she said.
Boan is aware of the dangers alligators pose. They are apex predators — at the top of the food chain.
“We must always be respectful of their power and space,” she said. “Alligators are a keystone species here in Florida and are very important to our ecosystem. It is illegal in the state of Florida to feed wild alligators. We work very hard to protect them.”
Boan said alligators are breeding at this time of year.
“They are on the move and looking for females to breed with. The bigger males are displacing the smaller ones in ponds and lakes, so the little guys tend to show up in strange places like swimming pools here in Florida.”
Juvenile alligators eat mainly insects, amphibians, small fish and other invertebrates. Adult alligators eat rough fish, snakes, turtles, small mammals and birds. American alligators are found throughout the South. Habitats include water lakes and slow-moving rivers and wetlands.
Males average 10 to 15 feet in length and can weigh 1,000 pounds. In the wild, they live 30 to 35 years.
Gatorland, a 110-acre wildlife and adventure park, is dedicated to educating the public about the wildlife in Florida and around the world. The park also houses birds, snakes, crocodiles, turtles and wild cats.
Edited by Fern Siegel and Judith Isacoff