When seeing an alligator out in the wild, your first instinct shouldn’t be to find the best place to pose with it for a picture.
Unfortunately, a video captured at the Everglades National Park in Florida shows a group of tourists doing exactly that.
The family dismounted their bikes when they saw the huge reptile emerging from long grass at the side of a cycle path. They stood on either side of the animal to get a unique picture for their photo album.
But it could have ended up a horror show. One adult even dragged a child toward her so they could be closer to the creature to get the best shot.
“He really hates us now,” one of the youngsters in the group said after they had taken a couple of snaps.
The alligator remained perfectly still throughout, thankfully, but its wide-open jaws should have at least signified some of the threat it posed. If it wanted to strike, it could have done so in the blink of an eye.
“I live in Florida and they move lightning fast when they attack,” one user said. “This is a top video of stupidity.”
“I can’t believe that this happened,” added another stunned Instagrammer. “They don’t know that alligators can outrun a man or, especially, small children. They are very lucky.”
The National Park Service’s website says those visiting the Everglades should remain at least 15 feet away from alligators and crocodiles at all times.
“Although they may look like a statue at times, they are alive and alert and can react lightning fast,” the NPS added, also noting that feeding or harassing an animal is a criminal offense that comes with a fine.
It’s not only the Everglades where tourists insist on breaking park rules regarding animals. Visitors of Yellowstone National Park can’t seem to stay the designated 25 yards away from bison, while other tourists have been caught getting too close to moose at the Rocky Mountain National Park.
In addition to the parents putting their lives and the lives of children in danger, if the alligator did strike, there would have been deadly consequences for the animal, too.
“And when they get attacked it will be the alligator that pays for their STUPIDITY,” one Instagrammer observed.
Indeed, should an alligator cause injury or worse, it will likely be found by park rangers and euthanized, as it will pose a threat to other park-goers in the future.
Exploring national parks provides a great opportunity to connect with nature and, hopefully, inspire us to protect our home. However, treating the parks and wildlife with respect makes the experience better for everyone, including the animals.
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