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Amazing Animal Of The Week: Watch Piper The Alligator Play Catch With His Keepers!

piper the alligator

Sure, you’ve played fetch with a dog and maybe even a very energetic cat, but have you ever played catch with an alligator?! Assuming the answer is no, then you’ll be astounded by how well Piper the alligator can play catch with his keepers. 

Piper is an American Alligator who lives at Theater of the Sea in the Florida Keys. He was rescued from an unsuitable home in Colorado and has lived at Theater of the Sea since 2008. One of Piper’s favorite activities is playing catch with his keepers! 

piper the alligator passes the ball

Theater of the Sea trains a variety of behaviors with all of their animals, including their sharks, fish, and crocodilians. They train important behaviors that help them care for the animals, such as climbing onto a scale to check their weight. However, they also train more “fun” behaviors to help enrich the animals and keep them mentally stimulated! 

That’s where the behavior “pass” comes in. 

Piper’s keepers taught him how to knock a large ball to them when asked, using the verbal cue “pass.” Piper uses his snout to push the ball, and has surprisingly good accuracy with his passes! 

piper the alligator plays catch

One of Piper’s zookeepers, Sam Arbonida, has chronicled Piper’s progress with this behavior on her Tiktok page. They began training the behavior with Piper and the ball in the water, allowing for easier movement of the ball. 


Celebrating because I can’t get over how smart and amazing this gator is and seriously can’t believe we trained him to pass a ball 🤍👏🏽 #animals #alligator #dayinmylife #training #floridakeys #TheaterOfTheSea

♬ Celebrate! – Jonas Brothers

Once Piper was successfully passing the ball in the water, they moved the training sessions on land. Piper progressed with flying colors, eventually learning to pass the ball efficiently on land as well! 

One of Theater of the Sea’s goals with their crocodilians is to teach people that these animals aren’t just scary killing machines. Alligators and crocodiles are intelligent animals that can learn a variety of behaviors and interact peacefully with their keepers! 

So watch some more videos of Piper and the other alligators at Theater of the Sea and see if it doesn’t change the way you feel about these misunderstood animals! 

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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