Photos from an alligator amusement park cause mixed reactions
These photos prove that even back in the day some people had a very unique concept of "entertainment." The photos are from 1907 and depict a very special kind of amusement park. Here, three young women are sitting in the middle of a river getting entertained by alligators.
Back then this "Alligator Farm" was a well-known tourist destination in Los Angeles, California. Visitors could observe alligators up close, feed them with live chickens, and see demonstrations of them creating artwork. They also had the chance to ride saddled alligators around the park. The gift shop featured a wide range of goods made of alligator leather, e.g. shoes, bags, and briefcases.
Most people weren't afraid of the animals; even young children were allowed to "play" with the reptiles. The majority of the alligators kept at the park were born in captivity.
The owner of the farm, Francis Earnest, and his partner, Joe Campbell, kept running it until 1953. Earnest was actually trained as a cook and worked in a mining cafeteria before he decided he wanted to tame wild animals.
The behavior of the visitors must have piqued the alligators' curiosity.
The concept of "animal rights" was foreign back then, so any troublesome animal would simply be shot on the spot.
Visitors took photos with the reptiles and seemingly didn't think a thing of it. The alligators were keep on leashes and were almost treated as toys.
The park was closed down for a reason you may not have guessed: Neighbors complained that in heavy rains the animals would wash into their yards. Supposedly no visitor was ever harmed by one of the carnivores in the park. There is only one story of a keeper getting bitten after stepping on an alligator's tail.