YEEEHAWWWW LETS KICK SOME TIRES AND LIGHT SOME FIRES YA’LL!
Apparently Colorado has a Gator wrasslin'(yes that’s how I will say it this entire post) down in Mosca near the sand dunes. Check out Colorado Gators Reptile Park for more info.
First, a bit about the place. This reptile park started as a tilapia farm that kept a couple gators to eat the dead fish, clean up, etc.
It’s not an unusual practice. However, over time several other fish farms donated their gators and a few people that bought them as pets realized it was too much and also donated them(so surprising…). Essentially, all of the gators are rescues and some have pretty interesting or tragic stories. According to our guide, this place functions more like a gator retirement farm. Additionally, this applied to most of their unique animals/reptiles. The have found/been donated a flurry of exotic pets over the years and it has grown into a solid exhibit.
Before I get into the class specifically here’s a bit of what you see just walking through their grounds.
Now, this class was absolutely amazing. I mean, I was expecting maybe an hour of grabbing little gators and posing by a camera but I was completely wrong. You do start in the small tank with the “tiny” ones but besides one basic demonstration the only guidance is “Don’t hesitate and try not to get bit.” It’s amazing. Additionally in the introductory tank there’s a couple snapping turtles you are warned to do you best to avoid which is an added bit on anxiety.
After you have mastered the art of catching the little ones, you get walked over to the next size up…
Basically you grab them by the tail, pull them to shore, and sit on them. Easy peasy.
Then you hit level three, where the technique is basically the same but the gators are bigger and you may need someone to hold their tail as they are capable of just walking off with you on their back.
So when that was all said and done we assumed the day was over since the gators were all clearly walking the line of being generally much stronger than us. Nope. After a 15 minute break we go to the next size up.
So the technique for these monsters was to, in summary, wade around in the water which was essentially a minefield of gators until you felt a tail with your feet. If you feel a tooth you should move your feet.
Once you find a tail, crawl slowly up it’s back and try to put the rope around its gullet then walk it(or ride it) to the shore like a puppy.
Once there, between the rope and the person on their back it could be managed just fine. So now we were told those were the biggest gators we would be wrestling as that’s all that is manageable with the amount of people. You are allowed as much time as you would like in all 4 pens though to catch until your hearts content. Afterwards we were introduced to Elvis.
Elvis is their 2nd largest gator and their oldest one. It took 9 people to get him into his pen, apparently he was abandoned on the highway but has lived here contently for quite some time. We did not get to wrestle him but you can pet him…at your own risk…
Anyway, I can’t recommend the wrestling class enough. Or even just going to feed the gators seems like it would be a great time. Call ahead and check if your insurance covers gators then get to it!