Search This Blog

Monday, February 5, 2018

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park

It's not every day that "trip to alligator farm" makes it to the top of your daily itinerary.  In fact, that has never appeared on my "must see" list until my trip to St. Augustine, Florida.  It seemed educational and something to do (and I love a good zoo/aquarium) but alligators aren't always the cutest or cuddliest of creatures. 

Let's be honest, I had just spent the day before swimming with manatees..... hard to beat, reptiles.   I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much there was to do and see at the Alligator Farm Zoological Park.  This trip to the alligator farm came in a close second with its own unique aspects and opportunities.

My attitude entering: Eh, alight, and then (in my best mock southern accent) going to see some 'gators - Goin' to Gator Country. 

Of course, this is not a real alligator 

My attitude leaving: Did you see how adorable those little crocodiles were? I just fed one. Well like seven. Did you see Mad Max begging for treats, did you know alligators beg for treats? 36 species of crocodilian? Croc facts for days. And finally, DID YOU SEE THAT PARROT? Can we bring him home?

Conclusion:  When given the chance to visit an alligator farm, always say yes.

American Alligators sunning themselves on a chilly day 

The zoos biggest claim to fame, is the Land of Crocodiles which opened in 1993, making the St. Augustine Alligator Farm the only place in the world to house all 24 species of crocodilians. I didn't even know there were so many species, or how to tell any of them apart. We walked around, checking out all the various exhibits hosting all those crocodilians. After that, we checked out the other exhibits which extend past just alligators and crocodiles. From birds of Africa to lemurs of Madagascar, the python cave, exotic birds, and mammals, it is a full zoo with a lot to see.

Alligator show 

Wildlife Shows
There are wildlife shows on a schedule throughout the day. We caught the "Florida's Forest Friends" show and made it over to the large exhibit and watched the alligator demo. Unfortunately, it was too cold for the true alligator show but we got the educational short version when the trainer came out, gave the alligator's "snacks" and taught us a bit about their behavior. The large exhibit featured on the map (and pictured above) houses a large collection of American Alligators, Florida's famous natives. I have to admit it was slightly adorable in a crocodilian sort of way to see a large alligator called Mad Max politely begging for treats from his trainer.

Fun American Alligator Facts: it is larger than the other alligator species, the Chinese alligator (there are only two living species of Alligator, American and Chinese (much smaller). Adult male American alligators measure 11 to 15 ft in length, and can weigh up to 1,000 lbs. Females are smaller, measuring 8.5 to 9.8 ft.

Alligator show 

Zip Line
You can even zip line through the zoo- including over the alligator lagoons, an activity that has gotten some attention on Daily Mail and other websites. Heights are not for me so we skipped the zip line and spent more time with the parrot (of course).

Feeding the crocodilians

Deck of the Anastasia Island Conservation Center where you can feed the little guys 

Feeding the crocodilians

Feed the Crocs
My favorite aspect of my morning spent at the Alligator Farm (besides hanging out with the crazy parrot of course)? Feeding the little gators off the deck of adirondack chairs. At first, we were a little confused to see a collection of much smaller "young crocodilians" according to the map, slowly making their way to us at the railing, giving us a sort of stink eye as they waited, for what we had no idea. It took about 5 minutes but soon enough we saw the food dispenser tucked in the corner. Most zoos you can feed the birds but the alligators- this is certainly unique. The Anastasia Island Conservation Center is the perfect place to rock, enjoy the view and feed the crocs.  Just don't forget a quarter for snacks!

Anastasia Island Conservation Center 

I learned a lot about crocodilian this trip, including some of the big basics. The easiest way to tell the difference is by the shape of the jaw: take a quick look at their snouts. Alligators (and caimans) have a wide "U"-shaped, rounded snout (like a shovel), whereas crocodiles tend to have longer and more pointed "V"-shaped noses.

Open every day from 9am to 5pm.
Extended summer hours from 9am to 6pm.

Buy your tickets at the door or online here
Adults (ages 12+)………………………………………$25.99
Children (ages 3-11)…………………………………..$14.99
Guests in Wheelchairs (Adults)…………………….$13.00
Guests in Wheelchairs (Children)………………….$7.50
St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoo Members……..Free Admission
**AAA, Military & Senior Citizens………………………10% OFF

999 Anastasia Blvd. St. Augustine, FL 32080

ToucanTina snack bar you can grab a snack and a drink and watch the turtles in their exhibit. This is the only place I have ever seen with discounted beer refills. Casual zoo break with beer and turtles? Count me in.

Turtle Crossing
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park began in the late nineteenth century as a small exhibition of Florida reptiles and soon became a quintessential Florida attraction. Today it functions as a modern zoo serving the public and the scientific community with educational shows and exhibits, important research, and worldwide conservation efforts. The Alligator Farm’s history as an attraction and an accredited zoo is nearly as exciting as zipping across the Alligator Lagoon on Crocodile Crossing, the park’s thrilling zip-line attraction. Full story here

Neptune - The coolest parrot I have ever seen

The alligator farm was far more fun that I originally anticipated.  Whats a trip to Florida without seeing some alligators and swimming with the manatees, anyway?  The zipline across the park looked like a fun excursion and I would have loved to see the full alligator show if weather allowed.  However, a pretty great way to start a Tuesday if you ask me.

Want more St. Augustine? Read About...

No comments :

Post a Comment

Let's Chat!