A tourist has been spotted taking a leashed cat onto the boardwalks at Yellowstone National Park to see the most famous hot spring, Grand Prismatic.
The incident (which you can watch below) was shared on Instagram account TouronsOfYellowstone, which highlights examples of bad behavior at US National Parks – whether it's petting a bison, taunting an elk, or chasing a bear.
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Grand Prismatic is the third largest spring in the world, and takes its name from the colorful thermophilic (heat-loving) bacterial mats around its perimeter. The yellow thermophiles are able to grow in the hottest areas, while orange, brown, and green thermophiles are suited to the lower temperatures a little further out.
It can be seen easily from the boardwalks that run throughout Yellowstone's geothermal areas, giving visitors a way to see the springs and pools from a safe distance without damaging the delicate ecosystem.
However, only qualified service animals (defined as dogs that perform tasks that a person with a disability cannot) are permitted on boardwalks and backcountry trails. The National Park Service (NPS) states that therapy animals and pets must stay within 100 meters of developed areas like roads, campgrounds, and parking lots.
Animals must be restrained at all times, in a car or crate, or on a short leash, and must not be left unattended or tied to an object. They must also have suitable food, water, shade, and ventilation at all times.
"These policies exist to protect pets from being killed by predators like bears and coyotes, to protect them from being burned or killed in hot springs, to prevent the exchange of diseases between domestic animals and park wildlife, and to allow others to enjoy the park without the disruption of pets," says the NPS.
If you want to hike the backcountry and boardwalks, there are boarding kennels near the park that can take care of your pet while you go exploring.
If you're looking for a park to explore with your four-legged friend, Acadia in Maine, New River Gorge in West Virginia, and Congaree in South Carolina are all much better choices.
For more info, including other dog-friendly parks and rules to follow, see our guide to the best National Parks for dogs.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).