MEET THIS LOCAL: Andrew Biddle is one of the trainers who works with the alligators at Wild Florida. His co-workers include dozens of alligators, including the largest gator in Osceola County, Crusher.
WHAT HE IS DOING: Every day at work, Biddle steps into animal exhibits that most of us wouldn’t dare going into. While Biddle is just in his second year at Wild Florida, he’s no stranger to animals. Biddle grew up volunteering at a friend’s family facility. That’s where he learned about handling bears, big cats, and alligators.
Check out Andrew in action:
He’s trained the nearly-blind albino alligators Blizzard and Snowflake by using special calls, food reinforcement, and patience. The same goes for the nearly 14-foot, 1,000 pound gator named Crusher. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission trapper brought him to the facility.
Crusher’s enclosure includes a temperature-controlled water area, a space for sunning, and a deck for park guests to have lunch (yes, also in his enclosure) while learning more about alligators. Because of Crusher’s massive size, Biddle says that it’s easy to tell when he’s about to move. But since the water is temperature kept at a comfortable level and Crusher knows he’ll get a reward after the experience, he stays in the pond.
The animal training at Wild Florida also helps keep the animals still while they receive health care and other check ups.
FUN FACT: Andrew and Crusher went viral when Andrew placed a green fidget spinner on Crusher’s snout.
QUOTABLE: “We started customizing Crusher’s enclosure and we included a nice wooden deck. One day we were saying, ‘Hey, it would be really cool to sit in here, hang out and eat lunch.’ That’s how we came up with Dine with Crusher.”
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: At Wild Florida, you can enjoy lunch next to Crusher or help train their rare abino alligators. The park is working on a drive-thru safari park, set to open later this summer.