'Gator Boys' snap up attention with new Animal Planet show

Jan. 5, 2012 at 9:41 AM ET

Some are hungry for success in Hollywood.

And some are just hungry. Like alligators. Who, all things considered, don't have much interest in getting their prehistoric faces on television -- the one million-plus that roam around Florida would rather hang out in your family swimming pool, freshwater canal or backyard pond.

That's where Paul Bedard and Jimmy Riffle come in. They're the stars of "Gator Boys," a new series on Animal Planet that features the two men swimming alongside, wrestling, capturing and kissing alligators, and then giving them a safe sanctuary to live in once they've been removed from where they became "nuisance gators." Both men are longtime gator handlers -- Riffle has been bitten seven times; Bedard has at least 23 bites.

The pair dropped by with a 3-year-old friend in hand to chat with TODAY's Carl Quintanilla, who asked up front: Do they have a screw loose or a death wish?

"No," said Bedard. "We've figured out different ways to do it. It's not like you just go in there blindly and jump on them. There's a method to the madness."

The pair use the alligators they've rescued to put on shows for crowds, which raises money to help them save more. "The way we do that is throwing dangerous stunts in, putting our heads in the alligator's mouth, our hands -- basically putting ourselves on the line for the enjoyment of the crowd," said Riffle.

Added Bedard, an alligator really could cause a person damage: "It'll crush your skull, break your neck, drown you, anything."

After which, he happily offered a smooch to the 'gator Riffle was holding. But it came with a caveat: "You don't want to kiss him unless you've bought him dinner and told him you love him," said Bedard.

In other words, don't try this at home. Even if you do have an alligator hanging out in your family swimming pool, freshwater canal or backyard pond.

"Gator Boys" premieres on Animal Planet Sunday, Jan. 8.

How much would someone have to pay you to kiss an alligator? Sound off on our Facebook page.

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