30 April 2013
By PATRICK WILLIAMS
ROBERT and Bindi Irwin have taken on their fair share of crocodiles.
But alligators - well that’s a whole other story.
With their mother Terri by their side, the young Irwins participated in their first alligator jump at Australia Zoo yesterday.
The three of them took on six-foot Macca so they could move him to another part of the zoo - a massive alligator enclosure due to open later this year.
The Daily was invited along to follow the Irwins’ jump and Macca’s journey to his new home.
"You get nervous every time before something like this," Bindi said before the jump.
"I get butterflies. I think it’s a good thing, though. The day you don’t get them is the day you don’t get nervous and don’t care as much."
Terri was first up.
"Robert, what I’m going to do is go for its head and I’m just going to pin it down... and you grab his back legs," she said. "Ready?"
Terri jumped in behind to hold the struggling alligator down.
Robert swooped in seconds later to hold Macca’s back legs off the ground.
Bindi quickly taped the alligator’s jaw and then blindfolded the creature.
Macca quickly calmed down but the Irwins weren’t about to let down their guard and held him down until they were ready to move.
After ensuring his safety, the Irwins placed Macca in the back of a van for the short journey to his new home.
After carrying him to the water’s edge, the Irwins unbound his mouth, uncovered his eyes, and let him slip off to join a small group of other male alligators.
The lagoon, located towards the back of the Beerwah tourist attraction, will be home to about 30 alligators by the time it opens.
Bindi and Robert were jubilant at the completion of their first alligator jump.
"It was so cool. They’re actually so different from crocs," Bindi said.
Robert was most excited.
"It was so, so cool," he said.
"I have jumped crocs but alligators are so different.
"They’re not as explosive. Alligators are more mechanical, they just walk off with you. I had a great time."
I had the gloves, the alligator had the cloaca
THE Irwins had Macca the alligator pinned down and ready to be moved to his new home. But there was just one more thing they needed to do.
"I think Pat should be the one to do the sexing," Bindi said with such cheerfulness that I figured she was joking.
Turns out, she was dead serious.
Alligators have no external sex organs, they tell me, and the only way to check is to put your finger in its cloaca.
They already knew it was a male, but they like to double check whenever they get a chance like this.
"If you feel something inside that means it’s a male," I’m told.
Up until this point I’d been an innocent bystander enjoying my spot on the sideline as the Irwins wrestled with Macca.
I was a bit hesitant.
I mean, I was hardly dressed for the part - my business pants and button-up shirt looked so out of place in the presence of khaki.
Then again, I’d be crazy to pass up the opportunity to be part of something so unique.
They gave me a glove and I snapped it on as though I was about to perform surgery.
Then they lubricated my right index finger and told me to rub it in.
Everyone let out a laugh - mine was a bit nervous.
I got down on my knees as they lifted Macca up slightly on one side.
"Put your finger in there gently," someone said.
Simple enough, I thought.
My finger went in about a centimetre before I felt something round - it was like a small ball.
"It’s a boy!" I shouted out, like some doctor to the parents of a newborn.