Two Headed Alligator

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The two headed alligator is a folkloric animal of the American state of Florida. Its history is focused mainly within the neighborhood of Seminole Heights in the city of Tampa, where it appears on the official seal. It is also the subject of art murals, statues, flags, tee-shirts and other ephemera related to the neighborhood.

Origins

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The earliest recorded reference to the two headed alligator was in 1911 when real estate developer, T. Roy Young and his Seminole Development Company purchased 40 acres of land and developed Seminole Heights, Tampa's first suburb. In the promotion of the real estate venture, Young adopted an image of a two headed alligator as part of a neighborhood seal.

A folktale entitled, Bite or Smite, was recorded by R. Perez and A.L. Lopez in 1930 during their research on local superstitions for the Federal Writers’ Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Florida. Like many folktales from the region, its characters consist of an anthropomorphic rabbit, alligator and turtle. In the story, the rabbit ignores the warning of the turtle and is eaten by the alligator, who had been concealing a second head. Since it is difficult to date the creation of folklore, it is unclear whether Bite or Smite was the inspiration for, or inspired by, the Seminole Heights seal.[1]

Folktale Bite or Smite recorded by R. Perez and A.L. Lopez in 1930

2014 Sighting

In 2014, a man claiming to be a "local naturalist" sent an image of a two-headed alligator he spotted at a Seminole Heights park to the local newspaper, Tampa Bay Times, who ran the image on the cover of the follow day's publication.[2] As the story became an international headline, scientists started to question the authenticity of the creature. The story was later discovered to be a hoax. [3]A local restaurant, Ella's Folkart Cafe, displays a taxidermied two headed alligator that it claims was caught by local trappers soon after the news story.[4]

Statue

In 2016 a Seminole Heights community art fund, Urban Art Attack, funded the building of a 6-foot two headed alligator statue in front of Southern Brewing and Winemaking at 4500 Nebraska Ave.[5]

Seminole Heights Two Headed Alligator Statue

References

  1. ^ "Two-Headed Alligator (Statue) Turning Heads in Seminole Heights". Seminole Heights, FL Patch. Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  2. ^ "Two-headed alligator spotted in Florida?". UPI. Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  3. ^ "That photo of a two-headed Seminole Heights alligator? It's a total crock!". 
  4. ^ "Tampa, FL - Famous Two-Headed Alligator". RoadsideAmerica.com. Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
  5. ^ "Two-Headed Alligator (Statue) Turning Heads in Seminole Heights". Seminole Heights, FL Patch. Retrieved 2016-10-12. 
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