Gator girl - Titusville Herald: News

Gator girl

THS graduate finds passion for gator wrestling at Florida park

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Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 12:00 am

Most people tend to think of alligators as dangerous, frightening predators.

Who would ever think of touching them, swimming with them, or even resting their face upon the nose of an alligator’s open mouth?

For former Titusville High School student Caroline Bravo, 23, of Florida, these “dangerous” activities are what she does on an almost daily basis.

The 2009 THS graduate is an active volunteer with the cast of the Discovery Channel show “Gator Boys,” at Holiday Park, in the Florida Everglades.

Bravo said that she is mostly involved with the trapping of the gators, which involves going out to different locations and capturing them from residential areas.

When she is at the park, she does shows, where she wrestles an alligator, one-on-one.

“Gator wresting has been around since the 1990s,” Bravo said.

Wrestling alligators at the park is an important aspect for the park. It is these wrestling shows that help pay for the facilities, Bravo said.

When asked how she is able to find the courage to wrestle the gators, Bravo said that for her, “it is more about a healthy respect than fear.”

According to Bravo, when you become fearful, you become complacent and then anything can happen.

Bravo said that with wrestling alligators, “It’s a mind game.”

Wrestling alligators is simple and, according to Bravo, you can train anyone to do it. Just like learning anything new, there is a method to learning how to wrestle alligators. When you first start wrestling, you train with more relaxed gators, and then move to the more wild ones as you advance and become more experienced, Bravo said.

Bravo has a true passion for the alligators.

For her, it is about the love and respect that she has for the animal.

“If we didn’t catch them, another trapper would and most trappers kill them for their skin and meat,” said Bravo.

She also enjoys educating people about alligators.

When she goes to a location to trap a gator, the majority of the people are very fearful of them. Bravo and the other volunteers take this opportunity to educate these people, and leave them with a newfound respect for the animal, instead of being afraid of them.

This love for these alligators goes deeper still for Bravo.

“The gators have saved me in so many ways,” Bravo said.

Bravo moved to Florida in the summer of 2009 to go to college and live with her father.

She has always had a passion for dancing, and had been dancing more than ever in Florida. Her father then passed away unexpectedly in the spring of 2013, and she stopped dancing.

A little while later, she went to go visit Holiday Park, and met Paul, one of the main stars of Gator Boys, who is now her boyfriend.

Paul took her alligator trapping on their first date.

“I think God sent him to me,” Bravo said about Paul.

Ever since their first date, Bravo has been hooked and involved with the alligators. Bravo’s passion for these newfound friends has given her the opportunity of being featured on the next season of Gator Boys.

Bravo said that she has heard from two different sources that the next season will be airing in August, and that she will appear on the show towards the end of the season.

This gator girl recently traveled to Costa Rica to film, where she received the opportunity to work with both alligators and crocodiles.

With all of this excitement going on, it is only natural for rumors to spread. 

Bravo took the time to clarify a specific rumor about a spinoff show, “Gator Girls.” Bravo said that she would be open to the idea, and excited to do a spinoff series, but she has not been offered such a show.

She also said that Paul has mentioned he would be interested in something like that.

Besides trapping and wrestling alligators, Bravo has been studying psychology at Nova Southeastern University, and is hoping to graduate in December. 

Although psychology may seem like a field far from alligators, she has thought about possibly incorporating her field of study into what she does at Holiday Park.

For now, Bravo is content at Holiday Park. And, in regards to what she does, Bravo said, “It’s fun. Dangerous, but fun.”

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