The courts have stepped in where common sense and logic failed, and it officially ordered a German zoo to stop letting small children swim with crocodiles and alligators.

According to The Local, the Crocodile Zoo in Hesse was actually letting visitors touch, feed, and swim with crocodiles. There are no barriers or protections. The “swim with crocodiles” service was even part of a “jungle party” birthday party package at the zoo. The zoo said those birthday parties were its most popular events.

At the end of August, the regional nature conservation authority finally ruled that children could not possibly be allowed to swim with crocodiles at birthday parties. They ordered the zoo to stop letting children under the age of 18 swim near the crocodiles without some sort of protective barrier.

Adults can still swim with the crocodiles.

People over the age of 18 are still allowed to swim with the crocodiles, provided they have been explicitly informed of the risks involved.

The zoo fought back in court and argued that nothing bad had ever happened there. The zoo opened in 2001 with the goal of bringing people closer to crocodiles, literally, and to show people that they aren’t really monstrous.

Educating people about animals like alligators and crocodiles is a noble goal. Crocodiles aren’t monsters. But they are wild animals, and they should be treated with respect. That includes giving them space and not cuddling large predators that don’t want to be played with.

Some videos showed visitors riding around on the crocodiles as they swam. The zoo even said “particularly daring” guests could put their heads in the mouth of a 3.5-meter crocodile and pose for a photo.

The court banned the zoo from letting children ride the crocodiles.

This week a local court agreed with the conservation authorities. They denied the zoo’s appeal and upheld the ban on children swimming with crocodiles.

The children had been allowed to swim with crocodiles and alligators at the zoo, as long as there was an experienced guide present. But still, these animals are very big, and very fast. Just last year a little boy wading in ankle-deep water in Disney World was snatched and killed by an alligator, and he was standing with his own father when it happened.

Alligators are cool, but that doesn’t mean they should be a birthday party attraction. Kids will still think crocodiles are cool from outside the water.

Do you think the court overstepped, or was it right to stop the crocodile swims?

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(Image: iStockPhoto / Ryo_stockPhoto)