Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Alligator wrestling - cruelty or tradition?


Some young people are taking up the tradition of alligator wrestling, in spite of protests by animal rights activists that it is cruel and unnecessary.

Long before the first tourists wondered into the steamy Florida Everglades, alligator wrestling existed. For tribes like the Seminole and Miccosukee, learning how to "handle" the reptiles was part of their existence.

Eventually that led to roadside shows where Native American alligator wrestlers could showcase their skills and make a living. Today tourists can watch shows where alligator wrestlers perform stunts with names like the "Florida smile" - but increasingly the job of wrestling gators is on the wane.

For animal rights activists the decrease in a tradition dating back for more than a hundred years is a good thing - they consider it to be cruel and unnecessary.

Others who still practice wrestling say it is an educational as well as traditional practice that should be preserved. The BBC's Miami correspondent Andy Gallacher found one young woman who is keen to keep on wrestling.


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