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When you reach the home of Philippe Gillet in France you are greeted with a sign that reads: BEWARE OF ALLIGATORS!
Chez Philippe Gillet, 61 years old now, lived his childhood in Madagascar in Africa where he dedicated his early life to the welfare and conservation of all wildlife at risk of becoming endangered. He fought against the poaching trades that to this day are rife in many regions worldwide and sometimes he was able to make a difference… at other times he was too late. He keeps reminders all around his house walls from the times he was unable to save some of the animals, with each artifact displayed telling a different story.
At the age of 30 he made the decision to return back to France which is where his family is originally from. He arrived and bought a house in the Couron region in France, near to Nantes, and created the atmosphere of the continent by adopting animals, mainly reptiles whom he has a strong love and affection for. He has reptiles, snakes, tarantulas, iguanas, turtles, frogs and 2 alligators aptly called ‘Alli’ and ‘Gator’ who share his home.
“When I arrived back in France I realized that the French knew very little about reptiles. And for this reason people are generally afraid. Because reptiles are so different, they are feared. We must protect them as they were probably on Earth before even us!”
Mr Gillet is a man committed and passionate about animal welfare and conservation as a whole, and feels all animals must remain in equal place to any human on Earth. This is why he wishes to show everyone how easy it is to live side by side with the animals he cares about so much.
Mr Gillet has since his time back in France set up an organization called ‘Infanta’ to protect the welfare of reptiles in particular and to show the animals at exhibitions in malls and also as part of educational sessions in schools and community settings in France. Mr Gillet holds an official license and certificate of competency in line with regulations authorizing him in handling and care of the animals he lives with.
Many of the animals living with Mr Gillet are those discarded from zoos during administrative seizures’ and many abandoned by people who tried keeping them as pets and then couldn’t look after them correctly.
When we arrived at Mr Gillet’s home, he had his 2 alligators walking freely in the room – like pet dogs or cats in a general home.
“I have kept alligators domestically for 8 years now, and they have become like any other pets anyone would keep. I have full respect for them and their welfare and they are very happy here.”
Mr Gillet also mentioned how many of the animals in his home are also quite famous now, as they have been used for film and fashion shoots and many media appearances.
“Pop star Pharrell Williams used one of our snakes for a video shoot. The animals have lots of celebrity friends now!”
When questioned about how strange it may appear to the wider world how Mr Gillet lives his life, he explained:
“Being different should not be same as being strange. It is my belief and life mission to fight for the plight of animals around the world who are at risk of no longer being around as a species, let alone as individual souls and beings. If we are to save this planet, we must start with the basics of living in harmony with each other and with nature!”
Mr Gillet has had around 600 different animals on his land and it is almost like a zoo, but alot more cosier. He even once had a cat who managed not to get eaten by any of the gators and he assures that the neighborhood has nothing to worry about when it comes to being afraid.
“I lived in Africa for 30 years and worked with chimpanzees, elephants, lions, and more. Many of the animals I take care of now are very much still misunderstood and so I teach about the scientific aspects as well as the welfare side. I also teach that although some can live side by side with us, they are of course naturally wild and have instincts that we must respect. Full care is taken when handling them.”
Mr Gillet is now contributing to many studies and books as well as making media appearances where he talks about his knowledge of the animals.
“There is also some scientific research still being conducted on some aspects of certain venoms from snakes for example that could one day even contribute towards curing human diseases such as AIDS or even Cancer! If people knew more about this kind of thing maybe they would be less afraid”
Spending the day at the residence we realized that Mr Gillet’s outlook on the world is very much alternative, but we also felt that maybe the survival of some species needs some original and authentic characters like him who are unique, unafraid and as heavily involved and committed to action than many of the rest of us. David Attenborough would surely be proud!
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PHOTO VIDEO CREDIT: TIG Media
Special Thanks to Anais Hotin in UK (TIG Media) and H. Brunner in France.