Reptiles don’t traditionally fall into the category of animals that make people feel comfortable — they typically provoke more anxiety than anything else. But Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport thinks alligators could be a useful therapeutic tool, so it’s making them available at baggage claim for passengers to pet. The program will run every Friday from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM as part of a partnership between the airport and the Audubon Nature Initiative.
Unless you’re from Florida, and you’re used to the constant presence of alligators in unconventional places, you might be a little unnerved. But don’t worry, these airport alligators aren’t dangerous or full-size adults (they’re babies). Erin Burns, a spokeswoman for the airport, told USA Today that the alligators are “used to being handled and get regular breaks.” A team from the Audubon Nature Institute will be on hand, offering a display table with educational materials about other creatures that coexist with alligators in Louisiana’s wetlands.
While the program won’t start until May 2019 — along with the opening of the airport’s new terminal — the alligators will be a permanent fixture. And don’t feel shy about taking selfies. The airport actually encourages it, even calling the initiative the “Gator Selfies Program.”