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'Gator Boys' show alligator wrestling past and future

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"Gator Boys" seemed to be making a point about the legitimacy of alligator wrestling on the Feb. 9 episode on Animal Planet entitled “Passing the Torch.” There were several scenes featuring an elderly Seminole Indian who had been an alligator wrestler in Florida for many years. The show explained that alligator wrestling techniques originated with the Seminole.

There was another storyline, and it does seem very much a staged storyline, involving a little 12-year-old boy who has been doing volunteer work at Holiday Park. He so badly wants to be involved with the actual alligator work, but, of course, he is not ready for that. Stuck doing cleaning work, he was discouraged until Jimmy Riffle talked to him about having a mentor when he was younger. He set up a mentor relationship for the boy with Tre who took him under his wing to teach him the art of alligator wrestling. (It merits a mention that the average parents just put their kids in soccer or dance.)

The focal point of the show was the meeting between the old alligator wrestler and the young apprentice when the elder presented the younger with a special alligator tooth necklace.

The show is great, and like any other reality show, it is surely scripted to some point. Of course, the part where Paul Bedard was bitten in the head by an alligator was not scripted in a previous season. There is only so much scripting that is possible with alligators! “Gator Boys” is still one of the most unique programs on the air.

You can read about the history of alligator wrestling and Florida's Seminole Indians here.

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