42-year-old Shannon Williamson had a successful career and a glamorous life but it wasn’t enough for her. She traded all the glitz and glamor for giant alligators!
For years, Shannon worked in the executive world as part of an HR company. She had to deal with 700 employees every day. Now, she deals with an 11ft, 550-pound gator named Mr. Cuddles.
Williamson spends her days training, feeding, and sometimes even kissing the giant beast at Gator Country, a reptile park in Texas.
Do people think I have lost my mind? Absolutely. People think I am going through a mid-life crisis. Everybody was in shock. Nobody could possibly imagine that I would leave my job. I had a very powerful position and I was very accepted in the community.
But Shannon prefers to go out with alligators and venomous snakes instead of her fancy colleagues. She decided to ditch her job when she met the reptile park’s co-owner Gary Saurage, who opened it in 2005 and has been catching ‘nuisance alligators’ for decades.
Gary is Texas’ lead nuisance alligator hunter. He said:
Shannon had this crazy job. She went all around and hobnobbed with all of these well-to-do folks in and around Beaumont. I really never did think that a person that was doing what she was doing would give that up to come live in the mud.
After the couple’s first date, Gary knew that Shannon is the woman for him. She left her job in 2017 and moved onto the park’s property. But her transition wasn’t as smooth. At first, she was terrified of alligators and snakes but it didn’t take her long to fall in love with them.
Every day is full of life-threatening dangers at the alligator’s park, but everyone who works there loves what they do. Gary and Shannon’s recent marriage has made her new position as queen of Gator Country official.