Alligator Wrestling

Alligator – Wrestling

Barrow: People value that creature at the same time that they have this primordial fear of this thing they think is bent on attacking them.

Ambience : Alligator Bellow

We hunt and eat them, make their skin into wallets and boots – and sometimes, we wrestle them! I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Mark Barrow is a professor of history at Virginia Tech. He’s been studying how our attitudes towards alligators have changed over the years.

Barrow: There’s this whole industry that develops to cater to tourists in Florida – Alligator Farms, that developed in the late 1890s. And it was basically a place where people could go and initially they just looked at these things. It doesn’t sound like a very appealing thing but people were attracted to it. Quickly the owners of these operations figure out they need to be more creative about getting people to come in through the gates and to part with their hard earned dollars.
The thing that really gets people in the gates is this phenomenon called alligator wrestling, where they have an individual who goes in and pulls out one of the larger alligators and runs it through this series of moves, getting on its back and holding its jaw shut, placing it under their chin and removing their hands. You kind of don’t want to look, and you really do want to look. You’re terrified but you’re also enchanted at the same. That starts fairly early on in the early twentieth century and so it becomes an important tourist attraction.

It’s one of things where there is some danger, but they’re able to do it in part because of some of the physiological traits of the alligator. The power of the alligators jaws to close shut is extremely high. It’s very powerful. But its ability to open the muscles that allow it to open the jaw are relatively weak. So one of the things that they rely on is their ability to hold the jaw closed. It is a dangerous thing; people get hurt doing it. It’s also something that’s not as dangerous as it looks.

Most alligators wisely avoid any contact with humans and are not prone to attacking us. We’ll hear more in future programs. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Alligator Wrestling

Should you ever decide to wrestle an alligator (bad idea!), here are a few tips.
Air Date:10/27/2021
Scientist:
Transcript:

Alligator – Wrestling Barrow: People value that creature at the same time that they have this primordial fear of this thing they think is bent on attacking them. Ambience : Alligator Bellow We hunt and eat them, make their skin into wallets and boots – and sometimes, we wrestle them! I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Mark Barrow is a professor of history at Virginia Tech. He's been studying how our attitudes towards alligators have changed over the years. Barrow: There's this whole industry that develops to cater to tourists in Florida - Alligator Farms, that developed in the late 1890s. And it was basically a place where people could go and initially they just looked at these things. It doesn't sound like a very appealing thing but people were attracted to it. Quickly the owners of these operations figure out they need to be more creative about getting people to come in through the gates and to part with their hard earned dollars. The thing that really gets people in the gates is this phenomenon called alligator wrestling, where they have an individual who goes in and pulls out one of the larger alligators and runs it through this series of moves, getting on its back and holding its jaw shut, placing it under their chin and removing their hands. You kind of don't want to look, and you really do want to look. You're terrified but you're also enchanted at the same. That starts fairly early on in the early twentieth century and so it becomes an important tourist attraction. It's one of things where there is some danger, but they're able to do it in part because of some of the physiological traits of the alligator. The power of the alligators jaws to close shut is extremely high. It's very powerful. But its ability to open the muscles that allow it to open the jaw are relatively weak. So one of the things that they rely on is their ability to hold the jaw closed. It is a dangerous thing; people get hurt doing it. It's also something that's not as dangerous as it looks. Most alligators wisely avoid any contact with humans and are not prone to attacking us. We'll hear more in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.