By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane
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Videographer / director: Francisco Hidalgo
Producer: Shannon Lane, Ruby Coote
Editor: Sonia Estal
Savannah Boan works at Gatorland in Florida, home to approximately 2500 alligators and crocodiles of all shapes and sizes.
She has only worked at the park for seven months, but it has been a lifelong dream to work with reptiles. And her special connection with the reptiles has already earned her the unique role of Crocodilian Enrichment Coordinator.
She said: "I love alligators and crocodiles so much because I think they are the most fantastic thing in the world. When I look at them I immediately get excited and butterflies in my stomach like I just saw a cute guy.
“The first thing I do when I get to Gatorland is look at all the alligators and make sure they’re here and I tell them good morning.
“Crocodiles need love and attention and support just as well as all of those fluffy things."
One of Savannah’s roles is to care for the less-abled alligators, such as Bullet, who was born with three legs, and Champ, who lost his tail and half his face in an attack by a larger alligator.
CEO and president of Gatorland, Mark McHugh said: “Savannah's job is to find new things for the alligators and crocodiles to do that will stimulate them, they get exercises that stimulate not just their bodies, but also their minds. It enriches their world.”
The 6 ft tall blond ex-marine is devoted to the 60 reptiles she cares for at the park, but her best friend and favourite is 13-foot, 25-year-old crocodile, Dundee.
She said: "I sit with him all the time and I tell him stories, and I gossip with him because I know I can’t tell anybody, and he really doesn’t care because he is just waiting for the next piece of food but I pretend that we have the greatest relationship ever.
"Reptiles aren’t very grateful But that’s okay because they still deserve like best care and best treatment in the world.
"I wish they though I was their friend but I don’t really think they think about like that.
"I think the most common misconception about alligators is that if you see one anywhere. It wants to eat and kill you.
"They just want you to leave them alone same with crocodiles. They don’t want to come, steal your Cheetos, they don’t want anything to do with that. All they want you to do is leave them alone.”
Savannah has had a passion for reptiles since she was a young girl, and wants to inspire other women and girls to follow their dreams of working with these powerful animals.
The mum-of-one said: “In the beginning, I couldn’t talk with my voice, I had to talk like man’s voice. When I would call them they would not respond, so then I would have to call them like a man would.
“But eventually they learned to put my face with a different voice and that’s how we work together now."
She said: “Moving forward in my future all I want to do is help inspire little girls and women all around the world and let them know they can do amazing things with amazing animals. Just like I am.
"I want people to respect alligators and crocodiles and I want people to not be afraid of them. They are amazing animals.
"And you can’t say you are an animal lover if you just love the furry ones!”