LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Jordan Bedford calls himself the "Alligator Man."
The nickname stems from his expletive-filled Facebook video, seen more than 7,400 times, showing him dancing at the edge of a Lake County lake holding and dragging an alligator on a leash. The gator's mouth is taped shut.
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"I was down at the creek one day fishing and I seen a gator tied up and taped up," Bedford told News 6. "Took the advantage to play with it a little bit."
Bedford said the baby alligator was barely alive, tangled up in the weeds. And Bedford insisted he found it with its mouth taped shut. And when he was finished recording his video, he said he removed the tape and put the alligator back into the lake.
"Everyone think I'm causing harm, I don't do no harm to anything," said Bedford. "That's not abusing an animal, it's called having fun. I'm a clown, anybody know me knows I'm a clown."
Bedford explained to News 6 he was a film and theater major in college. He said he's a comedian looking to become an actor and make a name for himself as an entertainer.
"The first man in Lake County to walk an alligator on a leash, first dude to do that," said Bedford.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioner said it has seen the video and is investigating Bedford.
"There is an ongoing investigation in regards to the actions in the video," said FWC spokesman Chad Weber. "It is illegal to touch, catch, or possess an American alligator without the proper permits. Rules pertaining to alligators can be found in Florida Administrative Code 68A-25. You can also find more information about alligators on our website at http://www.myfwc.com. FWC officers have spoken with Mr. Bedford. We are not certain if he has a permit to own an alligator, that will be something we look into in our investigation. If it is revealed that he does not possess a permit for owning an alligator he could face charges."
Bedford told News 6 he does not have a permit. Asked if he thought his actions were illegal, Bedford said no.
"To them it was, to me, no," said Bedford. "Cause I wasn't harming. I actually saved the gator. The gator had tape on its mouth, it was tangled, I took it out rescued it, put it back in the wild."
Bedford said the first time FWC officers talked to him they gave him a warning. He said he learned his lesson.
"I loved the idea and it brought more attention and that's what I want," said Bedford. "It's my job to entertain and i'm going to continue to entertain. But if I see a gator, now I'm not going to mess with it."
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