If you have to visit Florida for some reason, St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park should be on your list of sights to see.
But you should visit during normal visiting hours.
And you definitely shouldn’t jump into the crocodile pit like Florida Man did.
That’s right, folks. Florida Man is at it again.
On Tuesday morning, discarded clothes and a floating Croc shoe were found floating in the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park crocodile pit.
As you can imagine, employees of the St. Augustine alligator farm were alarmed and confused.
The pit is home to three 12-foot Nile crocodiles.
Hopes that the clothes were put there as an ill-conceived prank were soon dashed.
They found blood.
Employees looked at security video, which showed a man break into the farm and jump off of a roof into the crocodile exhibit.
When employees called the police in concern, police had just received another strange call.
Officers had responded to an incident involving a man wearing only his underwear.
People had seen a strange man crawling “in a concealed manner” while wearing almost nothing and had very correctly called the police.
Not only did surveillance footage confirm that this was the man who had broken into the alligator farm, but it was pretty obvious.
The man’s legs and feets had sustained serious injuries, believed to have been caused by crocodiles.
It seems likely that the man’s bites, from a crocodile species native to Africa rather than from alligators, would have linked him to the break-in even without the video.
This particular Florida Man was identified as Brandon Keith Hatfield.
The story that he told to police was nothing short of outlandish.
Hatfield claimed that he had been attacked by an alligator.
He didn’t say that it was a wild alligator, but instead claimed that he had encountered an old man who was walking an alligator on a leash.
Hatfield claimed that he was suddenly “surrounded by all these baby alligators.”
That bizarre tale would never have explained his injuries under scrutiny.
On top of the evidence that he leapt into the crocodile exhibit, it looks like Hatfield is accused of causing property damage.
He allegedly “damaged numerous exhibits and statues around the complex causing an excess of $5,000 in damage.”
Jay Ruditis, head of security for alligator farm, verbally narrated the security footage.
“Watch behind him, there’s a croc trying to attack him,” Jay says.
“Now it’s dragging him,” he narrates. “He will get on the shore. It’s got his foot right now.”
“It has a good hold on his leg. It’s kind of pulling him in,” he continues. “The croc will flip him, a little death roll in a moment.”
Death rolls are how crocodiles disorient, exhaust, and drown their prey. They also use the maneuver to tear off meat from large corpses.
“The croc still has him, so what he does is tries to kick it with his foot,” Jay concludes.
Apparently, Hatfield ended up on the lawn of a neighboring property.
“A little weird to see somebody that early in just boxers,” a neighbor remakred. “Going over your wall into your property saying ‘I was held hostage in a pool with gators”
“He says, ‘Yeah, I got bit by alligators.’” the neighbor shares. “Everybody’s looking at him like, ‘OK, he’s got to be on something,'”
Police have acknowledged that “he was possibly high on something”
Hatfield has been charged with Burglary, Criminal Mischief, and Violation of Probation
We can’t claim to be shocked to our cores that this guy was on probation.
We’re glad that he survived, but a little surprised that any Florida Man would apparently mistake crocodiles for alligators.
Alligators are opportunistic predators that will absolutely eat a human if given the chance.
But in general, Floridians see them as a nuisance more than anything else. Like, “oh, one got in the pool again.”
Nile crocodiles are one of the largest and most dangerous predators on the face of the planet. These things eat lions.
If we had to guess, we would say that Hatfield only escaped because these captive crocs are well fed and had little motivation.
We’re glad that the crocodiles are okay. They, we should remember, are the true innocents in this story.