Gator Boys Bios
Paul grew up in rural southeastern New England and spent most of his time outdoors exploring nature. He would routinely go on long bicycle rides in search of unexplored areas and new animals. Paul often took a 30-mile bike ride to a nearby town to visit “Rattlesnake Hill” in search of Timber Rattlesnakes. Both cycling and interacting with animals would remain a large part of Paul’s life.
In his early 20s, while earning a degree from the University of Massachusetts, Paul became an elite-level triathlete. After college, he stayed in New England to train during the summer months and spent the rest of the year in the South exploring the outdoors and connecting with animals.
Years later, Paul began working with Jimmy Riffle, after their meeting at Native Village, an Everglades alligator zoo on the Seminole Indian Reservation in Hollywood, Florida. Jimmy was an 11-year-old gator wrester at the time! “Jimmy has become like a brother to me,” said Paul. “I’ve watched him become one of the best gator wrestlers in the world.”
Together, Paul and Jimmy operate “Gator Boys Alligator Rescue.” Paul has worked with and around animals of all kinds, including alligators, sharks, crocodiles, venomous snakes, bears and big cats, just to name a few.
Paul still travels to New England every year and spends three months visiting with family, training for triathlons and working as a lifeguard at Horseneck Beach — just as he has for the past 17 years. Paul is a double ironman (approx. six-mile ocean swim, 200-mile bike ride and 60-mile run) winner, having finished in the top five in almost every race since 1992. He’s a true athlete, free diver (able to hold his breath for 4.5 minutes) and an all-around champion. He spends the majority of his time in southern Florida, defending animals with his close friend and partner, Jimmy Riffle.
Jimmy has been working with native and exotic wildlife since he was 11 years old. Jimmy studied under Mike “Skeet” Johns at the alligator zoo Native Village in Hollywood, Florida, on the Seminole Indian reservation, working alongside dozens of experts to learn everything he possibly could about wild animals.
Skeet took Jimmy under his wing and taught him everything he knew about wildlife and how to live off the land. He taught him how to identify, appreciate and respect native animals and the land itself. From an early age, Jimmy dreamed of following in Skeet’s footsteps. Skeet became like a second father and Jimmy was a fast learner who had a special way with animals, which propelled him from a volunteer to the manager of the Native Village by age 18. Skeet passed away in 2005, and Jimmy has walked in his footsteps and now operates “Gator Boys Alligator Rescue,” where he uses the skills Skeet taught him.
Jimmy met his partner and friend, Paul Bedard, as a young volunteer at the Native Village, and there they learned from one another over the years. Jimmy and Paul still work side-by-side operating “Gator Boys Alligator Rescue” in the Florida Everglades. Jimmy said, “The learning experience I get through working with wildlife every day and meeting new people is a blessing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.” Today, you can find Jimmy all over Florida — in bare feet — loving wildlife and looking for the next gator to wrestle. He also travels the country with his brother Andy and several of the Gator Boys performing an alligator wrestling road show.
As a native Floridian and Jimmy Riffle’s brother, Andy is no stranger to the world of wild animals. A real man’s man, Andy lives for the thrill of being outdoors. When he’s not wrestling alligators and saving residents from nuisance gators with the Gator Boys, he’s out mudding in his Jeep or enjoying hunting season.
Considered a newbie to the alligator trapping business, Ashley is always up for a challenge but finds herself feeling frustrated when the men around her question her strength, speed and smarts. Slowly but surely, the other Gator Boys are starting to realize that girls can go toe-to-toe with a gator just like the boys. A little lady in a man’s world, she works hard to change public perception of these fascinating creatures. Ashley was born in North Carolina at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and grew up in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and Fort Wayne, Indiana. She currently lives in Homestead, Florida.
Sara’s childhood dream of attending veterinarian school changed at the age of 12, when she began working with alligators. Born in Homestead, Florida, she loves exploring the Everglades and all that lies within. Rescuing alligators with her boyfriend, Jimmy, and the other Gator Boys makes her feel appreciated and part of something that excites not only children but adults as well. She’s never been bitten, but realizes her time will come sooner or later. Until then, she’ll continue to help people understand the importance of the work they do at Gator Boys.
Born and raised in Hollywood, Florida, Scott got his start in the wild world of alligators while only 10 years old, when Jimmy took him under his wing. In nine years, he’s been bitten only once — proof that he learned from the best! He has come to think of Jimmy as a brother and loves working with all the Gator Boys to save one alligator after another. In his spare, time Scott rides horses with his girlfriend, Samantha, and goes to big barrel races with her.
Like Jimmy, Tre’s fascination with reptiles began at a young age. He grew up in a rural area outside of Pittsburgh, and when he moved to Hollywood, Florida, the only place he felt at home was the Native Village zoo. He started there as a volunteer when he was 11 years old, long before the days of Gator Boys, and would meet both Jimmy and Paul at the zoo some time later. The only thing that troubles Tre about being a Gator Boy is that he has to work in front of the camera rather than behind it — but he understands that being on the television screen means educating more people about wildlife conservation. In his spare time, you can find him hiking in the Everglades.
An adventurer at heart, Christopher’s work with alligators began when he was 16 at a South Florida park. Since then, he’s traveled to Central and South America capturing and working with wild crocodiles. He has an affinity for working with animals, but when it comes to working with people, he’s not a fan. Before getting involved with Gator Boys, Gillette worked at Jungle Island, where he swam underwater with gators. He thinks Florida drivers are more dangerous than the jaws of an alligator.
Curious and brave, 12-year-old Eric loves working with alligators, snakes and lizards. In his spare time you’ll find him photographing these magnificent creatures near his home in Southwestern Broward County. When he first encountered Paul, Eric thought he was a threat to the wildlife in his neighborhood but soon learned they were on the same side – pro-gator. Of course, the two hit it off and now Eric hopes to take what he learns as part of the Gator Boys with him to study reptiles in college — even if that means cleaning up their mess sometimes.
Bonita Lynch | Bonita_Lynch@discovery.com | 215-657-1565