*bangs rhythmically on the table* LET. HIM. RIDE! LET. HIM. RIDE!
posting this again cause i found some good news!
How dare anything be this Floridian?
Not to be the one raining on everyone’s parade but this is a really big case of dangerous anthropomorphism of a wild animal that’s going to end badly. Reptiles are not like cats and dogs. Look at the case of Jor the snake.
-In defense of the clothes wearing, there’s this claim that "Rambo had originally been trapped in a small tank in a dark closet without sunlight before she rescued him, so he has to wear clothes when he goes outdoors because his skin “is very sensitive to sunlight.” The thing is, most reptiles, including alligators literally need UVA/UVB light to live. I can’t find any information about a situation like this outside of the articles about Rambo, so I’m doubtful of the validity of this claim.-Rambo doesn’t enjoy riding motorcycles or ATVs, nor does he feel love for his owner. That’s not anything against either him, or his owner. It’s just that reptiles don’t have the brain chemistry necessary for those emotions. -Man reptiles, including gators, are very susceptible to stress, and shouldn’t be constantly handled, particularly not in the way that Rambo is being handled. They’re not really a pet for you to be cuddling with, and definitely not one to be putting on open, moving vehicles. Either the stress will effect his health, or he will eventually lash out. (apparently the authorities aren’t allowing her to continue showing him in schools or riding on these vehicles, thankfully) -Yes, gators can be trained. So can many wild animals, but they’re still wild. They aren’t going to be predictable. It’s good authorities stepped in and stopped some of the most dangerous behaviors, but this is still going to end in tragedy. His owner does very clearly love him, but that’s not enough for an animal. She doesn’t understand his needs, instead equating him to a puppy or human child. This will either end in a bite or Rambo dying of something avoidable.
I’ll rain on the parade with you- this story makes me cringe, although I am glad they didn’t do the typical thing and just take the alligator away to destroy him. He’d certainly be better off at a different facility, but since he’s been in captivity since he was very young, it’s unlikely he’d do well at a nature preserve or something like that. He’d need a lot of human care and attention for sure. But I wish that it wasn’t in the form of outfits and eccentricity. The wearing clothes thing is total bs. Albino alligators are sensitive to sunlight, yes, which contributes to why they don’t survive well in the wild (also, as babies, albino alligators are easy to see and pick off as delicious snacks). But Rambo isn’t an albino. The idea that the clothes help prevent sunburn is silly. I’ll put my reptiles in silly clothes, but I acknowledge the silliness. I don’t try to claim it’s necessary.
As for the UVB thing, he could actually be receiving quite a bit of that. One thing that makes this different than Jor the snake is that Rambo’s being kept in Florida- a state to which he’s native. This means that if he’s kept outside, his climatic needs are being met. The articles I’ve found don’t actually say where he’s kept, only that the land is insufficient. Alligators over four feet are supposed to have at least 2.5 acres to move around on, and his owner’s entire property is only .3 of an acre. The Ledger article mentions her fenced-in yard and in this picture it looks like there’s a partially open garage… shelter… thing.
Side note: that is not the proper way to hold an alligator.
In various facebook photos, it looks like he’s got outdoor access. And as far as heat and humidity goes, he’s probably fine. It is his native range, after all.
The anthropomorphism is also patently ridiculous. An alligator is an intelligent reptile to be sure- they’re super trainable and can solve puzzles- but an alligator can’t love you back. Alligators can be social- sometimes you’ll see them congregate in the same area to bask or swim- but usually the adult males prefer to be solitary. And alligator sociality isn’t about cuddling or contact, it’s about being in the same basking area because hey, it’s nice to bask here. Juveniles will also sometimes exhibit play behavior and sometimes this does involve seeking contact with other animals, but not to the extent that a mammal would. They’ve got a really interesting set of behaviors, but anthropomorphizing them like that is dangerous to everyone involved.
His owner’s also been contradicting herself about his behavior in interviews- she claims he hates loud noises and sunshine but that he loves being around people and riding a motorcycle. It’s totally normal for a reptile to have preferences and fears, but if he hates the loud noises of the wild, wouldn’t he also hate the loud noises of a motorcycle? She also claims that by dressing him up and toting him around she’s providing education- but there’s no way that you’re going to learn anything real about alligators from seeing one dressed up like Santa. She says that alligators shouldn’t be pets, but actions speak louder than words.
However! There’s also some really good news in the NPR article, at least for the alligator’s safety. He’s not allowed to go on any more motorcycle rides, make any public appearances, and he’ll have to be caged with his mouth taped shut whenever he leaves the house. Having his mouth taped or banded is an important precaution when working with alligators- it doesn’t hurt them and it stops them from biting. They can still pose a danger with their tails and claws, however- but considering that this is an encounter his owner allowed, any safety precautions are an improvement.
This is not ok.
That all being said, not every captive alligator is this poorly kept. Many people and groups keep crocodilians do so quite well- it’s even safe to take them out in public, provided you take the proper precautions and you display them with safety and education in mind. Alligators make fantastic ambassador animals- when acclimated properly and cared for well. They aren’t as fragile as many other crocodilians and seeing one in person can be really inspiring- it can get people interested in conservation and help them come to see alligators not as a threatening nuisance but as a part of the natural ecosystem that needs to be respected.
Please rain on these parades, this is just disgusting anthropomorphism of this alligator.
(Your picture was not posted)