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Gator wrestling? You can do that in Colorado

Posted: 1:42 PM, May 25, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-26 08:17:49-04

Deep in the San Luis Valley, in the southwest part of Colorado, you can find some interesting things. That includes hundreds and hundreds of alligators.

"Yeah we're a little bit out of place here," Jay Young of Colorado Gators said with a smile.

Just outside of Alamosa sits a unique park. Not a theme park, but an atypical animal rescue.

"The first alligators were brought in to be garbage disposals for the fish farm," Young said, talking about his parents who started raising and selling tilapia.

But the public fell in love with the seemingly out-of-place gators. So it became a visitors center and place to actually save these reptiles. Pets that grew too big, drop-offs from animal control and police, along with turtles and other forms of wildlife that are now used for education.

"It's also the only place in the world where you can take an alligator wrestling class," Young said.

No taped mouths here, just man vs. gator. But it’s for a good reason.

"We have to move alligators around and we have to medicate wounds on a regular basis. So we invite the public to come in and help us do our work."

It is a win-win for the gator park. They get help doing something they'd have to do anyway, and members of the public get a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

So Denver7's Jason Gruenauer stepped into the gator pit to help.

"We’re in here to check them to medicate them, to do good," one of Young's nephews, who also works at the park, explained.

Smaller three-foot gators are grabbed by hand and given a check-up. Mid-sized gators are pulled from a pond and given shots or antibacterial ointment for wounds. To do so, they need to be sat on, their heads held to prevent biting. That's the "wrestling" portion.

The gator experts say this doesnt hurt the animals, it's the only way to keep them in control to help them get better.

Don't worry, our daring reporter was able to help out, wrestle four alligators, and make it out with all his fingers and toes.

The gator park is now looking to expand its empire, and with it, it’s rescue mission. Construction is underway on a scuba lagoon on the property that would give Colorado divers a place to go and a larger area and home for rescued fish. The goal is to have it open by July. 

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