Gators, Kids Swim at Fla. Pool Parties: The first surprise in this story, to me, is that some parents allow their children to swim with alligators in swimming pools at birthday parties. Whuu?
It's true: Alligator Attraction, in Madeira Beach, Fla., will bring to birthday parties two small (under 4-foot-long) gators that it says are completely safe.
Handlers tape the gators' jaws shut, the kids are run through safety precautions and in goes a gator with five kids at a time. Kids love it.
This is just ... normal in some places, I guess. But then the practice was picked up by the national press, attracted attention and generated complaints from animal rights groups, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Alligator Attraction is now under investigation for compliance to state laws regardling handling wild animals.
While acknowledging that the gators were small, University of Florida alligator biologist Kent Vliet told the paper that an alligator's taped jaws could come loose, or it could whip a child with its tail or scratch with its claws. "I have some concerns with the notion of having children in the water with alligators," he said.