An Ohio woman visiting the Tampa Bay area is out of the hospital after she was attacked by an alligator along the Hillsborough River Thursday afternoon.
Andrea Reese and Morgan Fusselman rented a canoe at John Sergeant Park in Thonotosassa.
“In the 23 years we’ve been in business, we’ve never had an incident like this," said Michael Cole, manager of Canoe Escape.
Warning signs to the potential danger are posted right at the entrance of the boat ramp.
Florida Fish and Wildlife investigators said gators typically don’t attack for no reason and are trying to figure out what caused one to somehow bite Reese on her thigh while she was still in the boat.
“A wild animal can be aggressive at any time. It just goes to prove the point that you need to be careful when you’re around wild animals. Keep your distance. Make sure you don’t feed them or provoke them in any way and just look at it from a distance," FWC Officer Baryll Martin.
While wildlife officials said an attack like this is very unusual, it wasn’t the only one in the state Thursday.
Nine-year-old James Barney was bitten three times by a gator in St. Cloud.
Officials said the boy was riding his bike and decided to stop and swim.
He was taken to the hospital with what are described as superficial wounds.
Cole said after the attack on the Hillsborough River, the girls called back for help.
He and paramedics paddled out to help bring them back in.
FWC is warning others to be aware of their surroundings when they’re on the water.
“In Florida any time there is a fresh water body there’s most likely going to be an alligator in it and it’s best to treat them all that way. Even if you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there," Martin said.
Wildlife officials said they are trying to find the alligator that bit Reese and capture it.