The care and safety of alligators

Photos by Katie Sikora

Handler: ‘You can never underestimate their strength’


Please don’t call Jeremy Possman an alligator wrestler. He wants to be known as an alligator handler. That’s because he wants patrons at the Everglades Alligator Farm in Homestead to know that his goal with the show is to pass along knowledge. “Today’s tourists are turned off by man vs. beast demonstrations that used to be popular,” he says.

For eight years, Possman, now 30, has worked at South Florida’s oldest alligator farm, one that is to more than 2,000 alligators. He is a big animal lover. He has a lion today. And a black bear, a leopard, and six tigers. His venture into handling alligators began when he recognized Kenny Cypress, son of the chairman of the Miccosukee Tribe, at a feed store. Soon, Cypress was coaching him on wrestling gators. He worked with the tribe before joining the Everglades Alligator Farm.

Since Charles and Deborah Thibos bought the farm in 1991, the goal changed from pure entertainment to conservational tourism. Still, Possman, who performs six times a day with different reptiles including snakes, says, “While you are making things exciting for the audience, you have to handle the animals properly, effectively, and fast because you can never underestimate their strength.”

More like this: Everglades Camera Stories

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