Did you know that during alligator shows, gators are roughly treated and intentionally provoked so they will demonstrate behaviors for entertainment?
Friends of Animals is calling for a boycott of the Los Angeles Boat Show, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from Feb. 6-9, as long as it includes The Swampmaster Gator Show and exhibit in its lineup this year. Video of past shows depict alligators prodded with sticks, jumped on, dragged, thrown around and beat on in a shallow pool.
“If alligator tormenter Jeff Quattrocchi, a.k.a. the Swampmaster, and the organizers of the Los Angeles 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, brutalizing them and exploiting them for money,” said Edita Birnkrant, NY Director of Friends of Animals.
After the show audience members can hold a baby gator and have their picture taken with the Swampmaster, something that’s both dangerous for humans and cruel for the baby alligators.
The price of this show is $14,000 per week, or $8,000 for one to three days. But 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 shows, alligators are roughly treated by handlers and intentionally provoked to entertain them. It has been documented that the show begins when an alligator is dragged by the tail into the center of a ring. Handlers 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). Handlers 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.
Quattrocchi boasts of being seriously bitten by gators at least 13 times. In May 2010, Quatrocchi was bitten by an alligator during a show in New Port Richey (requiring 36 staples and 23 stitches to close severe wounds on his arm and hand). In video of the incident, Quatrocchi 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, he 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 ("gator holes") that create habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, especially during droughts. Alligators can live to be more than 35 years old in the wild.
FoA finds no comfort in the show’s unfounded 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. Quattrocchi has boasted to owning 100 alligators on his Florida residence, and he’s likely breeding them for his shows in order to obtain a constant supply of babies to haul around the country to appear at different events and be held by spectators.
Alligators are naturally fearful of humans and attacks are rare—typically occurring when people have unnatural interaction with alligators (such as feeding), disturb their territory or pose 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.
We are urging supporters to:
Call and email the organizers of the Los Angeles Boat Show and tell them to CANCEL the cruel Swampmaster show or you will pledge to boycott the Boat Show this year. Tell them there is nothing educational about the harassment of wildlife.
Contact: Dave Geoffroy, executive director, National Marine Manufacturers West. 714.633.7581; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rosemary Stomp, show administrator. 714.633.7581; email@example.com.