The Rock criticised for joke about wrestling a gator: 'You're better than this'

US actor Dwayne Johnson.
US actor Dwayne Johnson.

By Raechal Leone Shewfelt

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s latest throwback photo drew more than “likes” and compliments.

The former WWE star turned leading man shared a photo to Instagram on Friday that shows him sitting on top of an alligator, holding the gator’s mouth shut. The photo appears to have been taken during Johnson’s trip to the Florida Everglades to film a January 2015 episode of his short-lived TNT reality show, Wake Up Call, in which he visited Wooten’s Everglades Airboat Tours in Florida.

The tone of the caption was light, and he joked about wrestling the reptile.

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Some of the responses were less so, as people accused Johnson of hurting the gator.

“You’re better than this the rock, dont use animals for entertainment!” one commenter wrote.

Another said, “Dude, you’re awesome, but really, animals aren’t our playthings, thought you had more respect than that?”

“Im not a fan anymore, you have just disappointed us…” an upset follower wrote.

There was more:

“Brother please stop posting and engaging with places and events that use animals for entertainment and labor.”

“I’ve been a fan but I don’t agree with treating living beings like this, and he’s enforcing the belief that it’s ok, just because it’s an ego boost or makes him feel superior. That’s not cool.”

“You didn’t tame a beast, you’re sitting on someone who’s probably scared and pissed off you’re sitting on their back. Leave the creature alone and stop promoting this.”

Not everyone was completely writing off the Rock, however.

“I don’t think the animal is in pain but I just think this photo is in poor taste. I like The Rock. However it feels sort of off to have him essentially sitting in the animal and holding its mouth like this,” one user wrote. “I’m not saying he’s an animal abuser and I think some people need to be careful about using that term but this doesn’t sit with me well. It looks exploitative for the purpose of displaying ego.”

Reps for the Rock didn’t respond to Yahoo’s request for comment.

The actor has upset animal rights advocates before, most recently in August when he shared a photo that showed him visiting an aquarium with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian, and their 2-year-old daughter, Jasmine. At the time, commenters argued that animals should not be kept in captivity.

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The gator photo prompted one of Johnson’s fans to mention the other type of animal that’s often pictured in Johnson’s Instagram stream: “Rather see a post of you with rescue pups.”

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Who can argue with that?

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