MADEIRA BEACH -- The Alligator Attraction, which features alligators and other wildlife, will no longer be able to take its alligators into residential swimming pools for "gator parties," the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
Alligator Attraction was in the news last month when local news outlets, Good Morning America and the New York Daily News reported about the gator parties, in which workers at the Madeira Beach facility take alligators smaller than four feet long to pool parties around the Tampa Bay area and allow guests to swim with them, hold them and snap photos.
That's when the phones started ringing at the wildlife commission. At least 10 complaints were filed by people worried that someone may get hurt.
Investigators showed up at Alligator Attraction on Wednesday for an inspection. They didn't find any violations, spokesman and officer Baryl Martin said last week.
But on Friday, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida sent a letter to wildlife officials, asking them to reconsider.
Investigators told the facility to shut down the parties immediately, citing a state regulation that says handlers must keep any captive wildlife under "under rigid supervision and control in order to prevent injuries to members of the public and the wildlife."
Don Anthony, spokesman for the animal rights group, said the parties were "a dumb thing to do."
"Exposing little kids to the dangers of something as unpredictable as an alligator and putting an alligator into a completely unnatural environment," he said, "it's just not good for either."
The mouths of alligators exhibited in the pool parties are bound by tape. But Anthony said that's not enough. "What if the tape comes off of the alligator's mouth and bites at the kids?" he asked.
The case remains under investigation, state officials said.