Last weekend, an 11 year old girl was wading in a Florida lake, near a lifeguard when the unthinkable happened. An eight foot alligator clamped down on her foot and began to drag her away. Juliana started hitting the gator in the face, which wasn’t working. Then she remembered a trip to Gatorland and the lessons she learned about alligators there. The noses of gators are very sensitive. With quick thinking and a calm head, she shoved her fingers up the gators nose. The alligator released her and she was able to be pulled away.
It’s a miraculous story, and Juliana showed amazing courage when most would panic.
In response, Gatorland released this video:
Gatorland just really comes off as a bunch of really good guys. They don’t want to take credit for saving the girl, because really, she was the brave one that did it. Instead, Gatorland truly loves the animals that they display, and they truly love the animals in the wildlife. They give a bunch of great advice on what to do when you encounter an alligator in the wild, and how to avoid harming yourself or the animal.
And while the story is truly miraculous, it’s a testament to the animal connections that parks like Gatorland is there to make. Sure, they’re in it to make a dollar, as are all businesses. But the fact remains that if the girl had not been to Gatorland, where they have live gators in captivity, she would not know what to do in that situation. That’s really the point behind animal parks, and zoos, connecting to an animal to better understand it, and the world we live in.
While Gatorland may seem like an odd place, they are truly a one of a kind animal experience, and one of many in Central Florida. They also deal with an animal that doesn’t seem so majestic. We all love the fantasy of gliding through the water with dolphins, like SeaWorld and connecting to a majestic animal such as a Killer Whale/Orca, but while those connections are amazing, they are fueled by a sense of wonder. The truth is, we need to feel a connection to every animal, for a variety of reasons. It is very important to know and understand the Killer Whales and dolphins of SeaWorld, but living in Florida, on the coast, it’s more important for me to know and understand the sharks of SeaWorld. We need to know when it’s okay to swim in the ocean, what to look for, and why the animals should be both feared and respected. As a Florida Native and resident, it’s very important for me to know how to avoid snakes and alligators, and what to do when I come in contact with them. That’s something that Gatorland does extremely well. While other parks and zoos like SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are definitely important to help protect and conserve the animals all over the world, parks like Gatorland are more important because they help us understand the animals in our own backyards.
Like I said, they all need protecting, but so do you. It doesn’t matter if you live in Central Florida, or in the heart of Nebraska, it’s very important to visit your local zoos and animal parks that focus on the immediate world around you. Know your local animal neighbors, it will help you to not only protect them from harm, but educate you on how to protect yourself from them.