Road trip news, rants, and ruminations by the Editors of RoadsideAmerica.com
April 21, 2014
We were shocked when we first read of one of the new April 2014 “rule tweaks” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. As reported by the Naples Daily News:
Forbidding the sale of stuffed baby alligators that depict “an unnatural body or body part positioning.” That could mean human poses, including standing upright or waving.
So, a ban of a classic (albeit repulsive) Florida souvenir. No! Then we thought about it for a moment, and tried to recall — had we ever seen such a thing?
Gift shops from South Carolina to eastern Texas sell many types of gator souvenirs: we’ve seen baby gator heads, and baby gator feet riveted onto key chains, and anthropomorphic ceramic gators posed as golfers or open-mouthed ashtrays. We’ve bought seashells humanely glued together to form cartoon gator sculptures.
Clearly there is no shortage of baby gator body parts and no restrictions (other than the limits of imagination) when it comes to turning an image of a gator into something quasi-human.
But who would go to the trouble of stuffing an actual baby gator so that it was waving or doing anything else unnatural to an alligator?
After a search of our trip archives, we uncovered one photo from 2003, in the “Mermaid Store” in Orlando. It’s of a large adult alligator, not a baby, standing upright with its head sawed off and reattached at the neck to look forward, like a human.
And it’s not hard to imagine that it might be seasonally outfitted with a Santa’s cap or Easter Bunny ears. With no visible price tag, it seemed more intended to accent the tacky atmosphere rather than to be sold as a piece of merchandise. And it may be long gone.
Are Florida bureaucrats proactively heading off an imagined future market of baby gators slaughtered to make souvenir water-skiers and thong-frollicking reptiles? Or are gator-humanoids already doing a brisk business in countless souvenir stores?
Let us know if you’ve seen any examples!