Alligator Bites Teenager on Outing at Everglades, Prompting Swim Warnings

An alligator bit a teenager visiting Florida's everglades, according to officials who said she suffered injuries to her leg.

The 18-year-old was swimming in water at the Everglades National Park—the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S.—at around 1:30 p.m. on Friday, when the reptile bit her. She was on a wet hike with her college group which was being led by their professor, the Everglades National Park said on Twitter. The animal left her with two puncture wounds on her lower right leg.

National Park Service Rangers and Miami Dade Fire and Rescue were called to the scene. The authorities told national park officials the teenager was calm following her ordeal, and was "not experiencing much pain."

At approximately 1:30 pm today, an 18-year-old female was bitten by an alligator in Everglades National Park and sustained two puncture wounds to her lower right leg. We are very grateful that her injuries were not more severe.

— Everglades National Park (@EvergladesNPS) January 10, 2020

First responders offered to take the girl to hospital by air ambulance, but she declined. She later made her own way to a hospital.

A park biologist said the alligator may have bitten the woman in an act of defence, according to officials. This can happen even if the alligator is provoked accidentally, they explained.

As a result of the incident, the Movie Dome area around the Pa-hay-okee Trail has been temporarily closed to allow officials to "evaluate the animal and situation," the national park stated.

"While the park is a safe place to visit, we remind visitors to exercise caution, especially around wildlife, & do not recommend swimming in the park," it said.

Everglades National Park spokeswoman Allyson Gantt told the Miami Herald that the girl was with around 15 other students at the time, as they hiked through a very popular spot. It is unclear when the area will re-open.

Gantt said alligators rarely attack people. "We hate for this to happen at the park," she said. The girl was "very calm and described the wound as low pain," Gantt added.

"While the park is a safe place to visit, we remind visitors to stay alert and exercise caution, especially around wildlife, and do not recommend swimming in the park," she said.

Visitors flock to the Everglades between the dry season of November to April, when temperatures are lower, there are less mosquitoes, and an "abundance of wildlife," according to the National Park's website.

As well as alligators, the UNESCO World Heritage Site spanning 1.5 million acres across southern Florida is home tp species including turtles, herons and alligators on the Anhinga Trail, and crocodile, manatees, and dolphins at Florida Bay.

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An alligator unrelated to the incident is seen in the Florida Everglades on May 15, 2019. Joe Raedle/Getty Images