Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Boredom not issue in this doc's waiting room

Alligators have been calling Florida home since before the first humans arrived, but lately they're expanding their range into some unlikely places — such as the waiting room of a doctor's office.

The wranglers at Gatorland are branching out, offering to install and maintain glass tanks with young, footlong gators for businesses and homeowners.

For the past several years, the vintage tourist attraction near Kissimmee has provided the gators living in the elaborate atrium of Gaylord Palms Resort. Since last year, Angel's Lobster and Seafood Buffet in Kissimmee has had six of the reptiles in a 120-gallon tank.

But the newest — and perhaps most unusual — gator habitat is at Dr. James Scelfo's Windermere medical practice.

Scelfo grew up in southern Louisiana and fondly remembers having a pet gator as a boy. He mentioned the idea of having a gator to his wife, who — perhaps with the couple's three young children in mind — was unenthusiastic.

"She put her foot down because she obviously has some sense," Scelfo said.

There was also red tape to consider.

"The laws for exotic pets are much more stringent in Florida than they were 40 years ago on the bayou in Louisiana," Scelfo discovered.

The dream of having a pet gator was on hold until Scelfo, 41, started planning the expansion of his Personalized Primary Care practice from Celebration to Windermere. His wife suggested having Gatorland provide some reptiles for the office.

"I thought it'd be really cool," Scelfo said. "The gators reflect my roots, and it's a conversation piece."

Once the permitting paperwork is finished, Scelfo's office lobby will be home to four juvenile gators. A Gatorland staffer will come by to feed the reptiles and maintain the tank once a week. The rest of the time, they'll be safely behind glass.

Gatorland owns the gators and handles the permits. Scelfo pays $50 a week to enjoy his four new office-mates.

Chris Sears, who is in charge of off-property shows for Gatorland, brought the footlong gators by the office last week to check out their future home, and he brought a larger gator cousin along for the ride.

Helen Sing dropped by for an appointment Thursday afternoon — and stopped dead in her tracks on seeing the four young gators in their new home by the front door.

"I like it a lot," she said, after getting over the surprise. The gators will provide a welcome distraction for patients awaiting their appointments, she said, and they'll keep kids occupied, too.

"It's fascinating to see them up close," she added, after checking out the 75-gallon tank. When complete, it will remain locked except when Gatorland personnel are on hand.

In addition to feeding and caring for the gators, Gatorland will switch them out when they outgrow their tanks. Although gators can grow to more than 10 feet long, this crew will be replaced with new youngsters within a year. The park also deals with state inspections and will be on call in case of emergency, even swinging by to retrieve the reptiles if a hurricane threatens.

Sears said hotels, schools and even homes could someday be mini-gator sanctuaries. "Hopefully, this is something we'll be able to mainstream shortly."

For Scelfo, the return of college-football season gives an extra reason to be excited about the arrival of his new tenants.

"I'm an LSU fan, and I have to put up with Florida Gator fans all the time," he said. "And now I've got gators in my tank under my control."

Comments
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Rang...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

St. Petersburg teen, 16, and unborn child killed in Pasco crash

A St. Petersburg teen, 16, and her unborn child were killed Sunday night in a crash in Pasco County, according to a release from the Florida Highway Patrol. Emily Pearson was killed on Little Road at 9:11 p.m. She was a passenger in a 1997 Ford Range...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Forecast: Hot and humid across Tampa Bay, with potentially wet weekend

Summer officially doesn’t start for another three days, but that won’t stop the searing temperatures and stifling humidity from making for a hot and sticky week across Tampa Bay. Temperatures will climb well into the 90s — and feel...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Clearwater and Tampa want to turn flushed water into drinking water. Is it safe?

Clearwater and Tampa want to turn flushed water into drinking water. Is it safe?

Twenty years ago some people called it "Twerp." Others, wrinkling their noses, called it "toilet-to-tap," or something more vulgar. In 1998, Tampa tried to boost its drinking water supply by supplementing it with treated wastewater, calling the prog...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A sports story that we all can love

A sports story that we all can love

When we think of sports — hard-nosed, competitive sports — what words immediately come to mind? Tenacity. Grit. Guts. Perseverance. Courage. Intensity. Determination. You get the idea. Sports are usually cutthroat, give no quarter, sho...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

Rays journal: Adeiny Hechavarria returns and plays short, but now what?

NEW YORK — The Adeiny Hechavarria situation is going to be interesting for the Rays. The veteran seemed destined to be traded or even released as he completed his recovery from a hamstring strain rather than play again for the Rays after last ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Are Democrats nervous about Nelsonís chances versus Scott?; neo-Nazi leaderís video from prison causes concern;

The Daystarter: Are Democrats nervous about Nelsonís chances versus Scott?; neo-Nazi leaderís video from prison causes concern; "toilet-to-tap" makes comeback; plus St. Pete Pride this weekend

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.ē Itíll be partly cloudy with scattered showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon, with highs in the upper 80s to lower 90s, according to the National Weather Serviceē Keep these l...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A St. Pete church opposes its own land deal. Will council go along?

A St. Pete church opposes its own land deal. Will council go along?

ST. PETERSBURG ó The Rev. Manuel Sykes wouldnít say last week whether he wanted City Council to reject a rezoning proposal that would let a developer build a drive-thru restaurant on his churchís land.He wouldnít mind, though, if a little divine inte...
Updated: 2 hours ago
At 61, he made his professional wrestling debut to help son cope with motherís death

At 61, he made his professional wrestling debut to help son cope with motherís death

A 16-foot wrestling ring and 150 rental chairs were set up on the basketball court of the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg. Concessions were prepared in slow cookers.It was as far from the limelight as it was in distance from Madison Square G...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

TAMPA ó Police are seeking the publicís help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian before fleeing the scene on Sunday night.Police say the driver struck an unidentified woman near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh...
Updated: 3 hours ago