Despite Media Reports, Alligator Pool Parties Still Operating
State wildlife conservation officials want more oversight of the swimming pool parties, but said they do not plan to shut them down.
The Alligator Attraction's popular pool parties that let people swim with gators will not be shut down, contrary to media reports Wednesday.
But the parties will get extra oversight from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
"We've been working with the exhibitor and looking into the issue to make sure that he is exhibiting the animals legally and keeping everybody safe," said Katie Purcell, Community Relations Coordinator for the agency.
While the state is working to ensure a safer environment at the alligator pool parties, officials have not shut them down, Purcell said.
Earlier today, Tampabay.com and ABC Action News erroneously reported that the alligator pool parties had been shut down by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Live Gator Parties Shut Down by Florida Wildlife Officials" was the headline on the Tampay.com story posted Wednesday.
Tampabay.com later changed the article to say there will be more state control over how the alligators are exhibited at the backyard parties. The new article did not state why the updated version was different.
According to the article, the gators will no longer be able to swim freely because of safety concerns. The gators are under four feet long and their mouths are duct-taped shut when they interact with people.
The new headline now says: "Florida Wildlife Officials: Kids' Gator Pool Parties Must Be Made Safer."
Tampa Bay Times Reporter Laura C. Morel said Wednesday that there was a "miscommunication" from wildlife officials in Tallahassee that led to the erroneous report that the state had banned the business from offering the parties.
Morel said that the updated version of the article is now correct and that she will not be writing a correction to clear up confusion from the original story.
ABC Action News is currently saying the pool parties are shut down.
The unusual theme parties are offered by Alligator Attractions of Madeira Beach. The business recently gained national publicity when it was featured on "Good Morning America.''
Owner Bob Barrett expressed surprise Wednesday to learn about media reports saying the pool parties would end. In fact, the pool parties are so popular that they're booked months in advance. The business is not taking any new reservations at this point because it cannot handle all the requests, according to Alligator Attraction's Facebook page.