20-year-old aspiring influencer arrested after 'illegally' jumping in alligator exhibit for a video: 'That was stupid'

Tampa police arrested 20-year-old Jacob Pursifull on June 5 after he filmed himself jumping into the alligator exhibit at the Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Pursifull and two friends filmed themselves entering the enclosed habitat on June 1 for a video they uploaded and posted across various social media platforms. The videos have since been taken down, but since Pursifull’s face was on camera, police were able to find him.

According to Pursifull’s YouTube and TikTok pages, he is trying to grow his audience with various prank videos. His TikTok bio reads “Road to 10k subs,” and his YouTube channel Jupa6 features video titles like “I Got Attacked!” and “HE ALMOST DIED…” Combined, he has less than 8,000 followers.

Video footage from spectators showed that the crowd there at the time called out to Pursifull to get out of the enclosure, because it was dangerous. At one point, Pursifull points into the crowd and jokes in a fake Australian accent, “Another wild Karen, crikey!”

“He is nothing that anybody should look at [and say], ‘Wow, that was cool,’ because that wasn’t,” Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation founder Vernon Yates told a local Fox 13 News outlet. “That was stupid.”

Pursifull has since been charged with burglary, theft of services and trespassing. He is currently being held at Orient Road Jail in Tampa on $8,500 bail.

Yates pointed out that part of the problem is that if Pursifull had been attacked by one of the alligators, the alligator would have had to be killed. The gators in the enclosure are reportedly up to 15 feet long and weigh around 1,000 pounds.

Busch Gardens said Pursifull violated park policy and must have jumped over two fences to get inside the habitat, passing multiple signs explicitly stating it was a restricted access area. The theme park also told the outlet that security and animal care teams responded immediately and that no bystander or animal was hurt in the process.

“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.”

Commenters on reposted videos of Pursifull were also unimpressed with his “joke.” Some pointed out that he could “literally go near any canal in Florida and see a gator and do this if he wanted to” without risking the safety of other people.

Prank culture has been around for decades and has built the career of some of TikTok and YouTube’s biggest creators. David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad and Jake Paul’s Team 10 have racked up millions in views for their prank videos and subsequent “best of” prank compilations.

While some pranks are less offensive — like the ones made by a man who pretends to propose to his wife in super public places to embarrass her — others can skirt legality or are just simply mean — like when a girlfriend thought it would be funny to say “No” to her boyfriend’s proposal in front of their close friends and family.

Even big-name creators who have built their followings with prank videos aren’t free from public scrutiny. In February 2021, a former Vlog Squad member Joseth “Seth” Francois accused Dobrik of intentionally tricking him into kissing someone without their consent for a prank video years earlier.

In 2017, when Paul lived in the Team 10 collective house in the Beverly Grove neighborhood in Los Angeles, his neighbors complained that Paul’s prank videos and stunts raised safety concerns, including one that involved starting a massive fire in his backyard.

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