Meet Jeanette Rivera. Standing at 5’3” and weighing around 98 lbs., she doesn’t exactly look like she’d have Herculean strength. But this 23-year-old is a professional gator wrestler – and a good one, at that! A staffer at the Everglades Alligator Farm of Florida City, Fla., Rivera spends her days giving gator-handling demonstrations to curious tourists, dragging the 100-plus-lb. creatures around a pond by their tails and temporarily taming them with ease.
By coming up from behind the gators – who can only see sideways – Rivera wows spectators by holding the reptiles’ necks, covering their eyes and even resting her chin on their upper jaws, as in the picture above (taken June 6 with gator Godzilla). Though she has a level of trust – and skill – with her subjects, one false move and 2,000 pounds of pressure from the gators’ iron-clad jaws will take her down.
Incredibly, Rivera has been a member of the staff since she was 14. And the animal lover says she isn’t afraid of the creatures she wrestles. Her greatest fear? Ironically, she tells the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, “I’m scared to death of frogs!”