Man accused of jumping into Busch Gardens alligator enclosure arrested

A man who was captured on video jumping into the Busch Gardens alligator enclosure is facing several charges. 

Tampa police arrested 20-year-old Jacob Pursifull in Tampa on Monday evening. 

Police say Pursifull and two other people made their way to the gator habitat at the theme park on June 1. 

According to the Tampa Police Department, Pursifull entered the alligator enclosure while one of the people he was with recorded it. The video was posted to several media sites and detectives say the video helped them identify and locate Pursifull. 

In the video Pursifull can be seen on the banks of the enclosure. He points at the crowd and says, "Another wild Karen, crikey!" 


Jacob Pursifull mugshot courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

Someone in the crowd shouted at him to get out as a woman in the video tells him that it’s very dangerous. 

"He is nothing that anybody should look at, ‘Wow, that was cool,’ because that wasn’t," Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Founder Vernon Yates said. "That was stupid." 

Yates has worked with exotic animals and wildlife for decades. He said a stunt like this not only jeopardizes the person involved, but the animals and the people around.

"There was no sign of animal respect there, because if he understood that if one of those animals would have grabbed him, they would’ve killed the animal, and I think that’s a big part that most people don’t understand, that when these kinds of animals hurt somebody, they become dead animals," Yates said.

He says he wants to see cases like these be taken extremely seriously and people be held responsible. Yates says the consequences could have been much worse.

"To the scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, he’s an 11 on what he did wrong, and there’s no way you can say to love and respect animals, and you do something that stupid," Yates said.

According to Busch Gardens, the man, who violated park policy, jumped two fences to get inside the alligator habitat. The park added that there are signs and multiple barriers indicating that it was a restricted access area. 

The theme park said its security and animal care teams responded immediately and no people or animals were injured during the incident.  

In a statement to FOX 13 Busch Gardens said, "We are thankful to hear that the individuals involved in illegally entering one of our animal habitats recently have been arrested and are facing charges for their dangerous actions," a spokesman for Busch Gardens said. "The safety and well-being of our guests, ambassadors, and animals is a top priority, and we are very grateful to law enforcement, particularly the Tampa Police Department and their law enforcement partners, for their swift action."

Pursifull has been charged with burglary, theft of services, and trespassing.