Swimming with the Alligators: Fun Exploration or Utter Insanity?
But he fell strangely silent, slipping his sweaty,
butter-soft hand into mine as we walked through the entry to Gator Country
“There are alligators here, right?” he asked quietly, giving
the area a quick scan and leaning in closer to me. “What if they bite me?” A
long pause. “Mommy? What do you think? Can I run faster than an alligator?”
These were all reasonable questions – and being a bit of a
city type myself, I didn’t really know the answers.
All I knew that was Gator Country Wildlife Park, located
just off the freeway in Beaumont, Texas, was known as a quirky place where kids
– and anyone else who’s up for it – can hold snakes, get an up-close look at
turtles and even swim with alligators.
And really, nothing screams summer fun and exploration like
swimming with alligators.
So I put aside any natural maternal concerns – like that my
kids would not leave the park with all their God-given limbs — and decided that,
liability being what it is in America, the place must be perfectly safe.
Once both children were reassured that the alligators they
would be swimming with were small – and that they saw that the reptiles’ mouths
were secured shut, they were excited by the opportunity.
They spent their designated five minutes holding the
alligators, and even encouraging one younger girl, who was fearful, to take a
closer look at the animals.
We heard a presentation on basic alligator facts, and
learned more about the park and its owners, who have been featured on shows
including CMT’s Gator 911. (Sorry friends, I wouldn’t categorize them as “Swamp
People” although a couple of the park’s visitors probably could have been
featured on the show.)
By the time we were leaving the park, Hunter clearly had the bulk of his swagger back.
Looking at a photo display of alligator wrestlers that have
competed at the park, including one with a couple of prominent bandages, he
“Hey Mommy? Think that maybe we could do that one day – you know, now that we have gotten used to holding the alligators?”
OK. Maybe this exploration concept needs to have some
serious boundaries …..