Therapy dogs, therapy cats, or even therapy pigs and horses have been employed to comfort travelers in airports all over the country. And now, it seems that their scaly friends are starting to get in on the game.
According to USA Today, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has teamed up with Audubon Nature Institute to bring live baby alligators to the airport’s baggage claim area.
Passengers can pose with the little gators for a special “MSY Gator Selfie.” Very brave (or very foolish) travelers may even pet the reptiles if they so choose. However, passengers are not able to have gator time every day. The baby gators are only made available to the airport on Friday afternoons between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., WDSU reported.
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Many wild alligators live in the Louisiana area, which means the city has taken to them as a sort of mascot. Visitors can take local alligator tours, buy alligator-themed merchandise or even dine on alligator in restaurants. The animal is so entrenched in the city’s history, they’ve become part of the culture itself. According to WGNO, one gator from Audubon Nature Institute is named Laveau, after Marie Laveau, a prominent New Orleans historical figure.
In addition to offering the rare chance of befriending alligators, the Audubon Nature Institute will also be putting out displays and artifacts to better educate the public about local animals in Louisiana.
MSY spokeswoman Erin Burns told USA Today that one or two baby gators will be brought to the airport at a time. Each gator is under three years old and measures about one to three feet long. She added that this new program will continue indefinitely, so there will be lots of chances to get a picture with a gator in the future.