Meet the Gator Guy. I love guys like him.
Why? Because it’s guys like him who give children like yours and like mine the opportunity to see, touch, and learn about what many people are either afraid of or simply do not have the opportunity to interact with – like gators!
When I was a child I thrived on all of the unique hands-on opportunities that I had. Petting penguins, holding gators and snakes – I must have been a magnet for animal experiences or something. There is just something about handling these animals that no book or video in the world can bring you.
Last weekend my son’s preschool had a special “show” on a Sunday afternoon. Out of their entire preschool (about 100+ kids) there were maybe about 10 kids who showed up. 10 Kids – to a FREE hands on learning experience for the kids!
It wasn’t like it was a boring lecture that kids would squirm through – I mean these alligators crawled around where the kids were sitting and the snakes slithered by. It was cool.
Everyone had the opportunity to pet and hold gators, snakes, and even a small turtle! Living in Florida all of my life I have a healthy respect for alligators but am not afraid of them at all. Believe it or not they pretty much just leave people alone. All of our parks around here have gators you can spot in the lakes and occasionally up on shore and it’s nothing scary.
I have taught my son how to act when he sees an alligator around and obviously not to approach it, but I feel like these instances when he gets a hands-on learning lesson where he can feel the dull alligator claws, touch the rough scales on it’s back, and actually see the teeth up close have taught him also to have a healthy respect for these wild animals. Just because you see an alligator does NOT mean you have to run the other way.
I guess this post is a bit of a rambling but please don’t pass on your fears to your children! If you’re afraid of snakes and your child has the opportunity under supervision to touch one encourage them to do so! If your child knows you are scared chances are they will become scared too!
Learning more about the animals will teach them not to be afraid and will help them understand how to react when there is one around.
Consider checking your local zoos and aquariums and sending your kids to an educational class there once or twice a year. I know our zoo has TONS of classes in the summer for only $15 each!
*Note of Caution and an Obvious Thought – if you see an alligator in the wild do NOT touch them or throw food to it! In fact in Florida it is illegal to touch or feed gators and you can be arrested. I’ve seen it happen (not kidding!).