A Pinellas County man’s YouTube video is creating quite the chatter with its costumed chompers. Alligators, that is.
Michael Womer fancies himself as the “Gator Crusader.”
He recently posted a video showing him dressing his gators up in Halloween costumes.
Why? He hopes to entertain and educate.
The purpose of the video is to illustrate how alligators use tools, such as sticks to hunt for food.
“So I wanted to do a video where I taught that to people, but if I just said it cut and dry like this like anybody watching this, you may not remember it tomorrow,” said Womer.
“But I’m thinking if you see an alligator dressed as a wiener or like a shark, you’re going to remember that.”
The video features gators wearing a number of different costumes, including one wearing a shark outfit.
Womer explains he only dressed them up for a few moments for the video purposes and the reward for the animals certainly outweighed the inconvenience.
“I always make sure to give the alligators really big treats. They only have the outfits on for 20 or 30 seconds. It’s not a long time and they get fed really well.”
Womer has always wanted to be around gators. Growing up, that’s what he told his mother. She thought he would some day grow out of it.
Twenty-seven years have past and he still hasn’t.
“A lot of people do call me the American version of the ‘Crocodile Hunter’,” said Womer. “So everyone’s like, ‘be careful, don’t get so involved in TV where you’re not paying attention to the animals!'”
Womer spent years wrestling gators in Orlando, but finally decided to move back home to Pinellas County.
He now trains the animals versus wrestling with them. He works with the gators at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary on Alternate US 19 in Palm Harbor.
“The point of my videos is, one, to make you smile and brighten your day. This world is sad. Everybody needs to have a brighter day. Who couldn’t use it? And secondly, it’s my unique way of doing conservation. If you hear a crocodile is in danger, you probably think, ‘well, they’re dangerous animals.’ My motto is if an animal video made you smile or it brightened your day, you’re going to want to save and conserve that animal.”