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Swamp boat guide swims with, feeds alligators

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Lafitte - I've water-skied over sharks and water moccasins in Florida and never screamed when an alligator or two slipped into the water along the Hillsborough River as I waited for a friend to throttle the boat.

Still, the Louisiana swamp-boat guide videoed swimming with alligators while feeding them chicken and marshmallows is incredibly brave by any Florida standard. Sure, there’s some stupid involved, but it takes a lot of nerve to play footsies with reptiles that can rip your arm off for a snack.

Tourist Stacy Hicks of St. Helens, Oregon could hardly believe her eyes when her swamp boat guide swam up to a couple of alligators and allowed one to pluck a marshmallow from his mouth.

Video from the swamp boat tour in Louisiana instantly went viral after it was uploaded to social media. Tourists aboard the boat are heard gasping and talking excitedly as they look on in awe. The incident occurred in May and the video surfaced this week in an AP story.

"When he jumped in I was a little scared, more for him than us though," Hicks said. "I am surprised at the attention this video has gotten. I just thought that this was a thing that happens all the time on the tours."

Unfortunately, for the owner of Airboat Adventures, the actions of its guide are reportedly receiving attention from local authorities since it’s illegal to feed alligators in Jefferson Parish.

Interestingly, swimming with the ancient beasts is not against the law - as long as one doesn’t offer the monsters a drumstick or the equivalent. Apparently making one’s face or an arm available to the Jurassic reptiles as a snack is not the same as feeding them chicken.

Legalities notwithstanding, the video depicts a deceptively serendipitous moment between modern man and a yellow-eyed eating machine from a distant prehistoric era.

In Florida, alligators patrol the waters of nearly every lake, pond and river in the state, not to mention a bunch of unattended swimming pools. However, Floridians generally observe a sort of treaty with gators.

We keep our marshmallows to ourselves, stay on the opposite side of the river and try not to make eye contact with the gators. The rule of thumb is to swim away as quietly as possible so one does not become lunch, hence the well-worn cliche, "see you later alligator."

Bo Boehringer, a spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said wildlife agents and parish officials are reviewing the video to determine if there was any wrongdoing.

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