Woman Hugs 200lb Alligator in Wild Viral Video: 'So Dangerous for No Reason'

A woman has been filmed cozying up to an 8.5-foot alligator in a shocking video shared to social media by a California reptile zoo.

In the clip, a zoo keeper by the name of Juliette Brewer can be seen cuddling one of the park's residents, a 200-pound alligator by the name of Darth Gator.

"This is Darth, I've got photos of him from throughout his whole lifespan, but he got me this time," Brewer says on the video. "I tried to hold him and he said 'nope.'"

The alligator is then shown attempting to move away from the zoo keeper, who asks him "where are you going?" as he makes his escape.

It quickly becomes apparent that the animal has urinated close to where Brewer is lying. "Oh dear lord what happened," she says after discovering the puddle he left behind.

The footage was shared to TikTok by the Fountain Valley Reptile Zoo in California alongside the caption "Sometimes I hug Darth Gator," and has so far been viewed over 5.5 million times.

The clip can be viewed here.

But while the video was amusing to some, for many Brewer's over familiarity with the potentially lethal reptile was a source of concern.

@thereptilezoo

Sometimes I hug Darth Gator 🐊 sometimes Darth Gator hugs me 😂 #alligator #reptile #animals

♬ original sound - The Reptile Zoo

"I love the passion for animals but baby girl is getting waaaaay too comfortable," DiamondNDre.com said. Adrianahillstrom0429 agreed: "It's all fun and games before he rips your face off."

Brad Vitek said Brewer's antics were "so dangerous for no reason," while Emma Brown accused her of being "irresponsible."

"When one day you move wrong and it hurts you, the alligator is the one that is going to be killed because of it," she said. Katherine McNabney commented: "That seems incredibly dangerous," with w.t.h.heather stating: "I am actually terrified for you."

Despite the concern, fatal alligator attacks are rare with the CDC WONDER database recording an average of around one fatality per year in the U.S. By comparison, they found an average of 56 deaths were recorded every year as a result of contact with hornets, wasps and bees.

The Savannah River Ecology Lab at the University of Georgia previously warned against creating any kind of scenario where an alligator may feel trapped or enclosed. They told WRDW: "You should never corner an alligator as it may make them feel threatened, which will make them react defensively."

Newsweek has contacted the Reptile Zoo for comment.

This isn't the first time Brewer's behavior around Darth Gator has come in for scrutiny.

In a video posted in August, the zoo keeper was filmed struggling to contain the giant alligator after he escaped from his enclosure during feeding time. Though Darth has spent most of his life at the zoo, reptiles kept in captivity can still pose problems.

One Australian zoo recently had to take extra precautions after its resident large American alligator, Kanye, began displaying very aggressive behavior toward other alligators and even charging at zoo keepers.

Zookeeper Juliette Brewer and alligator Darth Gator.
Zoo keeper Juliette Brewer and alligator Darth Gator - footage of the animal handler cuddling the giant reptile has sparked concern. The Reptile Zoo/TikTok