Trying to drum up business during a particularly slow season can lead to some unconventional ideas. Just ask Bob Barrett, who decided to make some extra money by dropping baby alligators into a swimming pool as entertainment for a child's birthday party, Bay News 9 reports.
"People were very leery at the beginning but it has taken off," Barrett, owner of The Alligator Attraction in Florida, told the news outlet.
Barrett brings the alligators to private homes. After conducting a safety session, he puts the animals into the pool -- mouths taped shut -- where they can swim around with children.
According to ABC News, the cost of having a gator at your pool party can run about $175. It's also a welcome antidote to the been-there, done-that problem of children's birthday parties, Barrett explained to the news outlet.
"If you're 9, 10 or 11 years old, you've already had the 'jumparoo' house, the bounce house, you've had the pizza party, you've had the clown party," Barrett said. "You get to have a pool party with a gator. It's a very popular party."
Chris Jones, a Tampa-area mother, hired Barrett to bring a gator to her 8-year-old son's birthday party, where the animal was a surprise for guests.
"We allowed all the children to come to the party and the parents without telling them about the alligators," she told ABC.
American Alligators, which were once endangered, are now thriving as a species, according to National Geographic, but they're not exactly known for being safe for humans to play with.
In August, a trainer at a county fair in Ohio was showing an audience how quickly an alligator's jaw can detect something in its mouth when the animal bit down onto his arm, ABC News reported at the time.
Still, Barrett, for his part, assured the New York Daily News that swimming with baby alligators is safe and that the animals are especially well-behaved around children.
Gary Morse with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told both the Daily News and Bay News 9 that he has received phone calls from several people about the parties. So far, he explained, it appears as though nothing illegal is going on but his organization is looking into the matter.
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