New study finds that alligator wrestling in Florida is animal abuse

Alligator wrestling, an archaic but still common show at tourist attractions in Florida, causes alligators substantial stress, according to a new study by researchers at New York University.

The study, which was published November 13, 2020 in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first empirical study of alligator wrestling in Florida. Researchers reviewed 94 alligator wrestling performances at 15 different venues in Florida, including Everglades Holiday Park (Fort Lauderdale), Jungle Queen (Fort Lauderdale) and Gatorland (Orlando).

“We found that alligator wrestling attractions may be causing systemic welfare harms to the alligators involved with few, if any, environmental conservation payoffs,” the researchers concluded.

In almost every performance wrestlers physically restrained the legs and torsos of alligators, often for as long as five minutes, causing significant stress to the animals. The researchers found wrestlers also forcibly pull alligator’s jaws open, drag alligators around an arena, flip alligators onto their backs, and even poke alligators in their eye sockets. The fact that individual alligators are repeatedly used in performances heightens the animal welfare concerns.

“This important study reinforces our belief that alligator wrestling is cruel and should not be allowed to continue in Florida,” said Nick Atwood, Campaigns Coordinator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. “We urge Floridians not to support attractions that feature alligator wrestling, and to ask friends and family members visiting Florida to do the same.”

“Investigating the welfare and conservation implications of alligator wrestling for American Alligators”

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Airline cuts ties with cruel primate trade

In May, ARFF joined with Action for Primates and One Voice to alert our supporters about a pending shipment of monkeys from Mauritius to Miami. As many as 1,200 monkeys were to be exported for use in experiments or toxicity (poisoning) testing. We urged people to ask Skybus Jet Cargo, who had been hired to fly the monkeys on the extremely long-distance journey, to reject the shipment. The response we received to our action alert from people around the world was overwhelming, demonstrating the widespread public concern there is on this issue. However, despite this, Skybus did not respond to our concerns, so we feared that the shipment had gone ahead as planned.

Last week, we learned of a breach of contract lawsuit filed against Skybus Jet Cargo by a company called International Logistics Support. When we read the complaint, it was clear that the lawsuit was about the shipment of monkeys in our action alert. Skybus Jet Cargo had cancelled the shipment, in part because of “certain political activist organizations.” On behalf of the monkeys, we are happy that Skybus chose not to get involved in the cruel primate trade.

The surprise victory reminds us of a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “You may never know what results come of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results.” We are grateful to everyone who contacted Skybus Jet Cargo in response to our action alert!

The court files also revealed that Matt Block, an infamous primate dealer who we’ve written about before on this blog, is an owner of International Logistics Support.