In the heart of the Everglades lies Florida’s most exciting reptile - the American alligator. Quiet and remarkably stealthy, he slips through the water without making a sound. An aggressive predator he is not, but at 10-feet plus, Florida’s modern dinosaur can intimidate without moving a muscle. This particular alligator is in trouble as he explores a lake next to a populated residential area. So what does this mean? To Paul Bedard of the Gator Boys, it’s an opportunity to bring another well deserving gator to Everglades Holiday Park, gator sanctuary and home to the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue.
Paul Bedard: A Calling He Couldn’t Ignore
Paul Bedard, originator of the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue and star of Animal Planet’s hit show, the Gator Boys, has always had a passion for animals. Originally from New England, Paul began exploring nature at an early age, sparking a passion for wildlife that defines his career. His first “catch” was a rattlesnake at the age of 12 in Tiverton, Rhode Island; an experience he remembers well. Despite spending five days in the hospital from a snakebite, Paul continues to confront dangerous animals each and every day.
For nearly 20 years, Paul has been wrestling and catching alligators although, it was sharks that originally caught his attention. He tagged and released dozens of sharks in the Florida Keys before realizing he was ill-equipped to handle the motion of the ocean, and seasickness finally got the best of him. Alligators seemed like a natural choice, and Paul has been capturing and rescuing them ever since.
Birth of the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue
Paul founded Gator Boys Alligator Rescue out of a deep respect for the Everglades’ most famous inhabitants. Sensing the need for more humane methods of removal and control, and for further education about the importance of protecting these reptiles, he made it his mission to bring alligator conservation to the masses.
It wasn’t long before Animal Planet came calling, which led to the show that made him a star. Ever since, Paul has had a bigger platform than ever to advocate for the rights of the animals he has dedicated his life to protecting.
A Gator Handler With a Purpose
The Gator Boys Alligator Rescue team at
Everglades Holiday Park is made up of volunteers, not paid experts. Saving the lives of gators is a top priority for Paul and his crew. Alligators are Florida’s most loved and feared reptile, and the Gator Boys place a premium on education to dispel some of these fears. Sure, they’re dangerous creatures and trying to interact with an alligator without proper training is pure madness. Still, Paul hopes his efforts at the park and beyond will help to change the reputation of these majestic reptiles.
Considering an alligator's lightning quick reflexes, one mistake could cost dearly, yet Paul approaches each and every rescue with the same confidence and self-assurance as he might if he were saving a kitten from a tree. He has deep respect and admiration for these amazing animals, and while he never denies the reality of the danger they pose, he concludes each catch with a kiss on the snout- after the jaws are secured of course! His biggest catch to date? A whopping 13 feet, 5 inches!
A lifetime of handling dangerous creatures is not without its risks. Over the years, the Gator Boys’ Paul has seen more than his fair share of accidents. He’s been bitten over 30 times, with several incidences requiring stitches and hospitalization. Not that this has ever dissuaded Paul, who in his spare time is also a championship Ironman competitor. In fact, these accidents only increase the respect he has for the creatures he works with every day.
Entertaining and Educating Crowds at Everglades Holiday Park
Rather than profit from capturing gators, Paul and his team deliver rescued alligators to a sanctuary at Everglades Holiday Park. As the official home to the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue, the park is also a well-known destination for
airboat adventures and fun, providing families action-packed adventure consisting of hour-long tours and a complimentary gator show performed by the Gator Boys themselves. Each 15-20-minute presentation takes place in the world famous “Gator Pit” and is both entertaining and informative- exactly how Paul prefers close encounters with Florida’s most exciting reptile.
A visit to Everglades Holiday Park is a natural destination for any Gator Boys fans — or for anyone who wants to learn more about what we can do to protect the Everglades and the animals that live within it. When he’s not busy with the Gator Boys, Paul can be found on-site entertaining visitors and raising money to support rescue efforts.
Located just outside Fort Lauderdale, Everglades Holiday Park is open seven days a week, with Gators Shows by Paul and his crew running regularly. Book your ticket online today!
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