MIAMI, FL (AP) Most 14-year-old boys are playing basketball with their friends or deciding whether Xbox is better than PlayStation 4. The monsters and adversaries they are fighting are 3-dimensional and accessible through game controllers. But Miccosukee gator wrestler, Rocky Jim, Jr., 43, was diving into the dark waters of Florida’s Everglades, wrestling with nuisance gators at the age of 14.
It appears that he has the perfect name for a man who spends his days getting up close and personal with one of the world’s most dangerous reptiles. He gets so close to the gator’s jaws that he could kiss them on the nose… of course, he doesn’t.
Visitors to the Miccosukee Indian Village and Museum get to watch Rocky wrangle with these 800-lb behemoths as if he was playing with his friends on the playground, one of the traits of someone who has spent most of their life perfecting their every move.
Rocky, and the other men and women working at the Miccosukee Village are preparing for the ribbon-cutting of their newly renovated tribal museum. An 11-foot stuffed alligator named Tiny, who used to call the village his home, anchors the first exhibit visitors will encounter upon entering the museum. Tiny will be surrounded by multiple text panels and banners that talk about alligators and their natural environment, alligators and tourism, and alligators and the Miccosukee people.
Visitors, who are not allowed to manhandle Tiny, will be able to touch a 7-1Ž2 foot gator hide along its back and head. John Walker, a Florida gator trapper from Deland, tanned this skin.
The people best tell the story of the Miccosukee people. Other gator handlers will join Rocky Jim to educate visitors on what they know about Florida’s most prolific, and feared predators… the American alligator.
Join the Miccosukee Tribe, our nation’s southernmost Tribe, at the ribbon-cutting on Monday, September 22, 2pm, at their village, 30 minutes from Florida’s turnpike and an hour from Naples along Tamiami Trail.