Guided Tour Of The Ross Allen Reptile Institute

E. Ross Allen was a pioneer promoter and theme-park entrepreneur who achieved national and international fame for his animal wrestling. Born in 1908 in Pittsburgh, he was an Eagle Scout as a boy and later a stand-in for Johnny Weismuller in the Tarzan movies. He transformed the historic, natural tourist attraction of Silver Springs into a prototype of modern theme parks. Ross Allen’s Reptile Institute opened in 1929 and catered to Florida traditions (and mythology) while employing Florida residents, including Seminole Indians. The institute later shifted its emphasis a bit toward scientific observation: Allen’s studies of the American alligator were among the earliest work on the species. In this 1960s film, Allen wrestles an alligator in the water. Seminoles are shown playing and working at Silver Springs. Francis Osceola wrestles an alligator on land. A woman wears a boa constrictor. A boy shops for a snake and, after rejecting an indigo snake, purchases another. Ross and his son, Tom, wrestle a 20-foot anaconda in the water. A rattlesnake is milked. The film then shows the rest of Silver Springs, including Bartlett’s Deer Ranch, Carriage Cavalcade, and Prince of Peace Memorial. The film ends with synchronized swimming and features underwater photography.
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