Having a gator in your swimming pool used to be something Floridians wanted to avoid. But then along came Alligator Attractions and Bob Barrett's unique idea to hold alligator pool parties where kids could get in with a live gator, and it turned out that they were a hit.
"You don't see that everyday," Barrett said.
The swimming gators are about four feet long and have their mouths taped shut. They're also supervised by a handler, and Bob says there's never been an incident.
"Our three mottos are safety first, safety first and our third one is safety first," Barrett said.
Still, all the notoriety caught up with Alligator Attractions. FWC officials say they had multiple complaints from news viewers and animal rights groups, so they took a second look at the parties.
Now they say it violates the law to allow the gators to swim freely, so they're going to enforce stricter rules: handlers must be in control of the gators at all times in the pool.
"It is a strict control, whether it be by a tether or hand, as long as he's able to quickly prevent injury," said FWC Officer Baryl Martin.
FWC says it's all about human and animal safety. Bob says he's fine with the stricter rules.
"Whatever they want us to do, we'll gladly do it," he said.
He admits this may slow the number of pool parties booked, but Bob's okay with that. He says at the end of the day, all the attention is good for one thing: improving alligator awareness.
"That's what the whole business is about," he said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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