GatorBike Aims to Take Bite Out of Center's Budget

Wildlife refuge hopes custom bike raffle will raise money for needed additions

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Barry Bland/Bancroft USA
    Jim Jablon and his GatorBike.

    When Jim Jablon received an alligator hyde, he did what anyone who's given animal skins would do: He made a bike out of it.

    "Most people mount it on their wall," said the 45-year-old owner of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Hernando on the west coast of Florida, "I figured I'd do something useful with it."

    So, he contacted his Swedish leather-expert buddy, Benny Ohrman, and paint expert Frank Keystone, and decided to design a custom-made motorcycle using the gator - head and all.

    The bike, the body of which features a removable hyde with matching paint underneath and the non-removable head between the handlebars (the speedometer is in the skull), will be auctioned off to raise money for Jablon's refuge, which houses abandoned and confiscated exotic animals.

    Raffle tickets are $130, and the money will go to such projects as building a lion cage and an otter enclosure at the center, which also houses lynxes, lemurs, tigers and a lot of other animals not fit for household pet-dom.

    The drawing is slated for sometime in May and will feature a fishing tournament as well as a model drawing the winning raffle ticket out of a pool of gators.

    "I think it's fitting," said Jablon. Whatever that means.

    When asked if there are future custom bikes planned, the Long Island native said the GatorBike turned out to be a timely, expensive endeavor, but that there has been some interest in doing another one.

    "There's a guy from Texas who asked if we could do a bull bike, with a longhorn skull and a saddle as a seat," he said. "It would be just like riding a bull."

    We'd like to put in our request for a LemurVespa asap.