While many people watch wrestling in their free time, this 22-year-old woman has taken the sport to the next level by taking on an unusual opponent — alligators.
“A lot of people just assume I’m crazy and tell me I’m insane,” Gabby Scampone told Barcroft Media. “Obviously, if you see someone kissing an alligator, but they don’t understand the alligators I work with are typically really sweet.”
Scampone, who is from New York, recently relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earlier this year after falling in love with alligators as a teen.
“When I moved here and told my parents that I was wrestling alligators they weren’t too excited,” Scampone said. “They were obviously afraid for me because it can be dangerous, but they support me in everything I do."
Once a day, she and her boss Paul Bedard put on a show at Everglades Holiday Park, where they wrestle alligators while also teaching the audience about the misunderstood reptiles.
Other times, Scampone is on call to relocate nuisance alligators that end up near peoples’ homes or pools.
“I basically don’t have a social life anymore,” she said, joking that she once had to walk out on a date after being called to trap an alligator. “It was a blessing in disguise because the guy didn’t want to come with me, so there will not be a second date.”
Instead of putting down alligators they wrangle — like many other trappers in the area — Scampone and Bedard instead try to relocate them.
She explained she started learning how to handle alligators by first practicing on taped gators. Then, the tape started to come off.
“A lot of people, 95 percent, think that the alligators are going to chase them and eat them and kill [them],” Scampone said, “They are not going to kill you and attack you for no reason. They want to be left alone. People get bit if they are feeding the alligator, harassing the animal, but they are pretty chill, even in the wild. They don’t want anything to do with you."