Friends of Animals is calling for a boycott of the New York Boat Show, held at the Jacob Javits Center from Jan. 1 -5, as it is including the grotesque “Swampmaster Gator Show” and exhibit in its lineup this year and passing it off as educational.
There are six performances scheduled, and baby alligators are also being exploited—promotional materials advertise that attendees can have their pictures taken holding the babies.
If Mr. Quattrocchi, a.k.a. the Swampmaster, and the organizers of the New York Boat Show, really wanted to educate families about the American alligator, they could simply talk about them instead of ripping them from the wild, where they belong, tormenting them and exploiting them for money.
The price of this show is $14,000 per week, or $8,000 for one to three days. But boat show organizers believe it’s a small price to pay as the Swampmaster website boasts that the Gator Show and exhibit is “a proven way to increase attendance at an event.”
What audiences in attendance may not realize is that during these wrestling shows, alligators are roughly treated and intentionally provoked in order to entertain them. But The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida tells the real story: The show begins when an alligator is dragged by the tail into the center of a ring. Wrestlers may torment the animal with a stick or hit the animal on the nose until the animal opens his or her mouth (to show the alligator's teeth to the crowd). Wrestlers often jump onto the alligator's back, or force the mouth closed and attempt to flip the animal. This can cut off circulation to the brain, and the show typically ends with the overturned alligator losing consciousness.
In May 2010, a wrestler was bitten by an alligator during a show in New Port Richey (the man required 36 staples and 23 stitches to close severe wounds on his arm and hand). In video of the incident, the wrestler is shown pulling the alligator around a ring by the tail, and prodding the alligator with a stick. In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times following the incident, the wrestler explained that without a display of aggression from alligators during a show, the audience loses interest.
Alligators, as top predators, play an important role in Florida's ecosystem. Alligators build nests and dig large holes that create habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, especially during droughts. Female alligators are very protective of their nests, and baby alligators will stay with their mothers for as long as two years. Alligators can live to be more than 35 years old in the wild.
FoA finds no comfort in the show’s claim that all alligators used in the show are wild gators that were considered nuisances and were trapped and sentenced to death by the state of Florida. The show also claims they perform for five days in the show and are then retired to a no-kill pond to live out their life.
FoA finds it disturbing that alligators are referred to as nuisances. Alligators are naturally fearful of humans and attacks are rare—typically occurring when people have unnatural interaction with alligators such as feeding, disturbing their territory or posing a threat to their young. In these instances, people are the nuisances.
Habitat preservation, combined with respect and a basic understanding of alligator behavior are key to maintaining a healthy relationship with our wild neighbors. People don’t need a Gator Show to teach them that.
Here’s the video of the abusive gator show being promoted on the NY Boat Show website. Wild alligators belong in the wild. There’s no excuse for transporting alligators from Florida to NYC for this kind of torment portrayed as education and entertainment.
Don't support tourist attractions like the New York Boat Show that feature alligator wrestling.
Please make a phone call today to NY Boat Show Manager Jonathan Pritko at 718.707.0716. Jonathan is responsible for booking the “Swampmaster Gator Show,” and so far he has refused to cancel the show. Let him know that you are boycotting the Boat Show because you oppose this form of animal abuse as entertainment. Urge him to never again have this kind of animal exploitation at the NY Boat Show. You can also send Jonathan an email, but be sure to make a quick phone call today—the show starts tomorrow. E:mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also call the show’s producer, the National Marine Manufacturers Association NY Office. Contact: Sarah Ryser, director of communications. 847.636.9790. email@example.com.