Know Your Florida Laws: Manatee Rides and Gator Parties Are Prohibited

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Dear Florida, after reading to today that you've booked a woman for sea cow molestation and that having a business that rents out small alligators to swim in residential pools with is actually a thing, we only have two words: never change.  

Ana Gloria Garcia Gutierrez could face a $500 fine and could spend up to two months in a Florida county jail for riding a manatee. Gutierrez turned herself in on Tuesday after the Pinellas County Sheriff's department started a publicized manhunt searching for a woman in a white hat and black bikini top mounting a manatee (they circulated the picture on the right to local media). "She was not arrested or charged. Charges were referred to the state attorney's office," authorities told The Tampa Bay Times's Peter Jamison who adds that "under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, sea cow molestation constitutes a second-degree misdemeanor, an offense punishable by a $500 fine or a term of up to 60 days in the county jail." The full Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act can be found here if this sounds hard to fathom. And NBC News adds that manatee riding is actually a second-degree misdemeanor. Manatee riding in your bikini seems like it'd be more embarrassing for Gutierrez, but Jamison reminds us that it takes two to molest a manatee. "Authorities do not believe the manatee was physically hurt. The psychological impact of the incident is harder to assess," Jamison adds. 

With the manatee rider now awaiting her fate with Florida's legal system, there's also news of Florida lawmakers trying to figure out what to do about a company called Alligator Attraction and its involvement with "gator parties" or small gatherings where people let gators swim in their swimming pools with their children. "Workers at the Madeira Beach facility take alligators shorter than 4 feet to pool parties around the Tampa Bay area and allow guests to swim with them, hold them and snap photos," reports The Tampa Bay Times's Laura C. Morel, who adds that the parties (don't worry, the gators' mouths were taped shut) got the attention of animal rights activists. And, apparently in order to be up to code, the gators need leashes. "Investigators told the facility that workers had to exercise more control over gators when they are inside a pool by either holding them or keeping them on a leash," reports Morel. "If he [the owner of Alligator Attraction] wants to continue his business," wildlife commission spokesman Officer Baryl Martin told Morel. "He just needs to alter the way he does it to exhibit the animals." The matter is still under investigation. 

Photo via Pinellas Countty Sheriff's Department

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