By Craig Day, News 9
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma -- A viewer posted some pictures to our sister station in Tulsa, News On 6's Facebook page showing children swimming with an alligator. It's becoming popular for Safari's Sanctuary when they bring all kinds of animals to events and parties.
But, is it safe and legal?
In addition to rescuing all kinds of exotic animals, Safari's Sanctuary also takes animals on the road. They do company picnics, birthday parties, you name it - it's educational and fun.
Owner Lori Ensign-Scroggins said they have reptiles, birds, tortoise and baby donkeys, to name a few. But some of the favorites are an American alligator and a South American Caiman, especially since kids get to swim with them.
"It's an awesome experience," Ensign-Scroggins said. "Have the goggles on, floating underneath it, touching it, the kids will swim the way the gators swim and try to race it across the pool."
But what about safety?
Safari's Sanctuary says the animals have always been in captivity, and don't know how to hunt for food. Plus, their mouths are taped shut.
"They're banded; they have no strength," Safari Sanctuary Lori Ensign-Scroggins said. "They weren't blessed with strength in opening, just in clamping down."
They're also rinsed and bathed before and after an event. The water is also tested to make sure it's not over chlorinated or harmful to the animal.
"We always have one staff member tending to every animal," she said.
Experts stress this is only done under expert supervision, in other words, don't try this on your own, at home.
While animal sanctuaries with the right paperwork and permits, can take other animals off the property where they're permitted, the Wildlife Department says they can't take American alligators from one location to another.
When we brought the Wildlife Department's rules to the attention of Safari's Sanctuary, the founder and CEO told me she's taken the alligator to parties several times, and was unaware it wasn't allowed.
She's going to work with the Wildlife Department to get clarification on the rules.