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Fla. Alligator Wrestler Meets His Match

Hollywood, Fla. — A 22-year-old alligator wrestler is recovering from one of several surgeries he’ll need to repair extensive damage to his arm inflicted by a 1,000-pound alligator.

The 13-foot gator, known as Lunge, chomped on the arm of Will Nace during a demonstration Saturday at Native Village, a gator park and wildlife sanctuary.

Friends and co-workers said Nace was performing a “lunge alligator” demonstration for about 20 people attending a private party. The act consists of having the bull alligator open its mouth wide, then having Nace tap the alligator on the nose.

It appears Lunge lunged too far, said the park’s co-owner, Ian Tyson.

“One of the big things we do here is educating why alligators attack people, and by doing this we get up close and personal with the animals,” said Tyson. “This time Will got a little bit too close, and when he got too close, the alligator lunged out of the water.”

According to Tyson and park volunteers, the alligator grabbed Nace’s arm and dragged him into a pond, where the two spun around in an alligator behavior known as the “death roll.” Nace remained submerged throughout most of the struggle. Trainer Rob Art trainer jumped into the gated pit and freed Nace’s arm by repeatedly tapping the animal on the head and ears, Tyson said.

Nace broke his right arm in two places and had deep bites and punctures across his forearm and hand, his friends said.

Nace has been an unpaid volunteer with the park for about a year and usually performs the same acts about four times a day.

Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the agency does not have jurisdiction over the park because it is on property owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.