New Orleans airport is helping people deal with travel stress in what is being considered an unusual manner but is also a perfect representation of the city.
Therapy animals are popping up at airports all over the country to help travelers deal with stress and anxiety. Although dogs are the most common type of animal, Denver Airport recently added cats, San Francisco chose pigs and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport has used a miniature horse. No, the last one was not a typo, a miniature horse is helping many weary travelers get calmly to their final destination.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is the latest airport to join the animal therapy trend, but the airport is using an animal that has a special meaning to the city. According to MSN, baby alligators are brought to the airport to help people deal with the stress of traveling.
Audubon Nature Institute is responsible for bringing the little creatures to baggage claim every Friday to meet arriving passengers. The institute encourages people to pose for a selfie with the baby gators, called the MSY Gator Selfie. If people are brave enough, they are even allowed to touch the animals.
The alligators range between the ages of 1 to 3 and are anywhere in size from 1 to 3 feet. Each animal is used to being petted by people, plus they get regular breaks to ensure they are not getting cranky.
Two baby gators are brought at a time to interact with travelers. Erin Burns, a spokesperson for the airport, said that adding the little alligators to their already successful dog therapy is just another way to make the traveling experience better for passengers.
Along with taking pictures with the animals from 1-3pm, the Audubon Nature Institute also uses a table full of artifacts and other educational material to teach people about animals that live alongside the alligators, such as raccoons and opossums.
The Louisiana wetlands are full of alligators, so it is fitting that the New Orleans airport has chosen them to add to their therapy animal list. It has been such a success the program is expected to continue indefinitely.
Would you be willing to take a selfie with a baby alligator? What do you think about using them as therapy animals in airports?