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Why you shouldn't feed alligators

Lake Seminole Park is known for seeing beautiful wildlife up close and there are signs reminding you that you don't want to get too close. They aren't just here for decoration. There's a big reason no humans should be feeding the gators.

"They are going to learn... that now, I'm a food source." Eric Hovland is the Associate Curator at the Florida Aquarium. He works with the alligators everyday and sees first hand how intelligent these reptiles can be. "And they're going to learn to approach me, but they're not necessarily going to learn that I'm special versus you or you or someone else."

He says that's why feeding an alligator can make it seem aggressive because it loses it's natural fear of humans. "You've opened up that avenue for that alligator to explore what he normally would have avoided. It's not even aggressive, it's just that you've re-programmed them in a way."

Michael Ahearn and his son Tommy love visiting parks and looking for wildlife like alligators, but he says he's more careful than he used to be. "We don't know which ones have been fed, so they become a bit scary."

He was disappointed when he heard that firefighters were feeding the alligators at Disney. "I think they are not educated well enough. I think people need to know why we don't. I'm very tempted to. You know, I love the animals -- really -- all of them."

But the lesson here is to love them enough not to feed them. If you want a closer look at a gator, grab the binoculars and keep your distance. Or better yet, head to the aquarium or the zoo.

Click here for more information about alligators in Florida.

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