OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — It wasn’t very long ago this alligator was swimming in the swamps of Lake Okeechobee, Florida.
This is an 8 foot, 200 pound, bull alligator,” says handler Jeff Quattrochi.
On the first day of the Oklahoma State Fair, a short trip outside his enclosure was the gator’s first look he had at the Bandshell lawn.
Most people are more familiar with Jeff’s professional nickname, ‘The Swampmaster”.
“I don’t think I’ve every interviewed someone who was holding an alligator,” says a visitor before his first show at the fair.
“There’s a first time for everything,” chuckles Jeff. “And there are a lot of them at the Swampmaster Gator Show.”
Quattrochi does three shows a day during the fair’s run.
But these first shows are the scariest for him.
A gator that’s never been handled is understandably unpredictable.
“Opening day is always my most intense day,” he says. “I’m working with a brand new alligator that I haven’t handled.”
Jeff doesn’t use what he refers to as tame, show gators.
Jeff has been bitten 14 times in his nearly 20 years on stage.
Three years ago, a 9 footer got him.
He points to several scars on his right bicep, “I took 37 staples in my right arm as you can see.”
He and his scaly, green partner give the folks a good show on day 1.
No bites that hit home.
But the next day doesn’t get any easier.
Day 2 at the fair turned out to be Friday the 13th.
Good luck and alligators don’t usually go hand in hand.
The Swampmaster manages to keep both on his good side most of the time.
For more information about the Swampmaster and his show go to www.gatorshow.com