Alligator boat tour operation faces scrutiny

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Guide swims with alligators and feeds them by hand in a video being reviewed by wildlife officials. Photo is from Stacy Hicks’ Facebook page

An alligator swamp boat tour operation in Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, is under review by wildlife officials after a tourist from Oregon posted video online showing a guide swimming with and feeding wild alligators by hand during a trip with tourists.

Stacy Hicks shot the video and put it on Facebook with the words, "Our guide was crazy!"

While swimming in the swamp, the guide fed a pair of alligators chicken and marshmallows. At one point he put a marshmallow halfway into his mouth and the alligator came up and plucked it away.

The Associated Press reported the story Wednesday, showing parts of the video in question:

It is against the law to feed alligators in Jefferson Parish where Airboat Adventures is located, so local and state wildlife officials are reviewing the footage to determine whether there was any wrongdoing, according to AP.

"This is not a zoo," Aleutia Scott of the Jean Lafitte Historical Park and Preserve told AP. "This is a natural habitat. The animals need to be doing their normal things—feeding, foraging, reproducing—and we as humans don't want to interrupt that."

Airboat Adventures refused to comment for the AP story, but plenty of people spoke out online. Reviews of Airboat Adventures on its Facebook page are mixed between those who thought the guide was "amazing and entertaining" and those who were critical of the practice, admonishing the tour operation to "Stop feeding and harassing alligators."

A tourist from Scotland, Sandy Ewart, told AP, "If I wanted to be entertained like that I would go and see a circus."

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