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On Alligator “Programs”

I received an e-mail from Israel Dupont, a naturalist and alligator expert in Florida who thought I might be interested in his site due to my frequent posting on alligator "attacks." His site is called "Living With Alligators" and I thought it might be nice if we gave some constructive, kind feedback.

My favorite part of the site is the "Safety tips by the dozen" page, and though the advice might seem obvious, you'd be surprised how many people think it's a good idea, for instance, to feed or entice an alligator. The tips should be more widely circulated.

The pages about alligators and crocodiles are full of information I didn't know.  I do, however, get taken aback when I am reminded that "Among its qualities are . . . its value in commerce." And that's when the problems begin for me.

Though it's clear that Mr. Dupont doesn't appear to want any harm to come to alligators and crocodiles, he has made a business of exploiting them and doesn't see any harm in that. A visit to the "Live Programs" page underscores one of the "values" the animals have for us. The photo of the girl, face-to-face with a baby alligator whose mouth is taped (scroll down on this page), and the fact that the animals are transported to venues to "perform" makes me say: He might not be wrestling with them or beating them, but is any of this in the best interests of the animals? Why not have a sanctuary for them and let them be.

Alligators aren't for entertainment. To me, this looks like exploitation dressed up as outreach and education. And the way that it's done might be profitable, but it's certainly not necessary. No one can argue that this needs to be done in order to save alligators. Though people might benefit from it, the alligators certainly don't. Respect for alligators and crocodiles should include not making circus acts out of them and allowing them to live their lives, free of our profit motives and intrusion.

Anyone else want to add anything or disagree?

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