From New York City to the Swamps of Florida

Frank Buck and Larry Tetzlaff
Larry Tetzlaff and Frank Buck

Early in his education at Western Michigan University, Larry successfully published one of his scientific papers detailing his method for getting newly imported snakes to eat domestic food. As mortality rates for many snakes was far too high, this article caught the eye of famed animal collector Frank “Bring ‘em Back Alive” Buck. Buck offered him a job at the historic 1939 World's Fair in New York City that drew upwards of 44 million visitors. Concerned about his education as he was only in his sophomore year, he consulted his professors. Larry was wisely advised that colleges will always be around, but Frank Buck is probably only going to ask once. Larry left Michigan for New York to accept Buck's offer. Along with caring for Buck's giant constrictors and other deadly snakes, Larry also got his first exposure to big cats.

Tarzan and Tetzlaff
Larry Tetzlaff, Ross Allen, and Johnny Weissmuller

Around this time, Larry headed south to Florida where he explored the swamps and wild areas of the state, worked on alligator farms including Ross Allen's Reptile Institute.

Most memorably, Larry did some stuntwork for Johnny Weissmuller in the famous Tarzan Finds a Son film while it was being shot at Silver Springs. Following the day's shoot, a few men would take a relaxing swim downstream and walk or hitchhike back. The Olympic gold medalist Weissmuller, however, often would swim back upstream.

During World War II, Larry worked as a civilian on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa doing fire/rescue using experience he had gained as a volunteer fireman in Kalamazoo.

He also milked thousands of venomous snakes for Wyeth Labs. The U.S. government had contracted the pharmaceutical company to make medicine from the deadly serum for the war effort.

After the war, Larry moved back north.

Jungle Larry in Florida


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