Meet Savannah Boan, the only woman at Gatorland who handles big reptiles, and calls alligators and crocodiles her "best friends."

By Meghan Overdeep
May 01, 2019
Facebook/Savannah Boan

After four years in the Marine Corps and a decade in local radio, 47-year-old Savannah Boan has finally found her calling: among 2,500 crocodiles and alligators at Gatorland in Orlando, Florida. She's the only woman at the theme park and wildlife preserve who handles the big reptiles.

Boan's official Gatorland title is Crocodile Enrichment Coordinator, and it's a dream job for the South Carolina native who considers the reptiles to be her "best friends." She's particularly close to two 13-foot-long reptiles, a butt-scratch-loving rescue alligator who goes by the name Blackwater, and a crocodile named Dundee who lets her do his dental work.

"I have loved alligators and crocodiles and all reptiles my entire life and I have wanted to work at Gatorland for as long as I can remember," she told the Daily Mail.

"Alligators and crocodiles are some of the most misunderstood animals in the animal kingdom—they have way more to fear from us than we do from them," Boan continued. "I want people to love alligators and crocodiles and recognize how important they are to the ecosystems in which they thrive."

Through her role as an ambassador for Gatorland Global, the park's conservation project, and her wildly popular Instagram account, Boan says her goal is to show people the softer side of alligators and crocodiles and hopefully change their perspective on animals she feels have been wrongly branded as "mindless monsters."

'Crocodiles and alligators are a lot smarter than people think, I have relationships with all of the animals I care for at Gatorland, I have a great respect for them, and they respond accordingly, unless they're in a bad mood," she told Daily Mail.

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And it's not only alligators and crocodiles that Boan spends her days cuddling up to. Her Instagram also features other creatures she encounters during her conservation efforts, snakes, bats, big cats, and monkeys included.

"I like for people to see a different side of them, like the only side you're ever gonna see in the news, is an attack," she told Click Orlando. "We've given a voice to all of these animals."

Keep up the good work, Savannah, and please be careful out there!