Why on Earth? Alligator wrestling.
How can I learn the techniques of alligator wrestling?
There’s actually less to this sport than meets the eye. Gators are generally pretty lazy beasts, and so long as you pick on one that’s the right sort of size, wrestling one is not as dangerous as it looks.
Alligator wrestling started out as a test of manhood among Florida’s Seminole indians, and they still practise the sport occasionally. But after a white hunter named Henry Coppinger took to grappling with gators back in the 1920s, it became a popular tourist attraction and – despite the best efforts of animal rights activists – it still features in the programmes of a few Florida-based wildlife parks.
The best place to see alligator wrestling these days is Gatorland, near Orlando. The technique of the keepers there is pretty simple: pick an alligator a little more than a metre long, and approach it from behind. So long as you make sure it’s recently eaten, it’ll be pretty inactive, and approaching it from behind minimises the chance of an attack. It may take a swing at you with its tail, but small gators won’t do much damage this way.
The approved technique is to sit down swiftly on the alligator’s back and grab it under its jaw, pulling the head up and back. (A gator can exert huge pressure biting down, but the muscles which open its mouth are very weak – you can hold even a large gator’s jaws shut with one hand.) So long as the animal is small enough, you can pin it down and there’s not much it can do about you. Thereafter it’s mainly a matter of keeping your balance while the gator thrashes about. If you do get thrown off, remember that alligators can only move in a straight line – so the best way to leg it is by zig-zagging.