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        Walking through our Southern Swamps building, you may have noticed a few changes.  For starters, some of our largest residents are missing!  Well folks, I can assure you that they are not missing but simply enjoying a relaxing retirement under the Florida sun.  Our two large American Alligators, Astro and Dino; our American Crocodile, Croc; and an education Alligator, Igor, had gotten too large for their exhibits and it was decided that they needed to be moved.  Last October, the crocodilians undertook a journey down south to St. Augustine Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida to go onto exhibit with their alligators and crocodiles.  Both of the Alligators were placed into the large exhibit with several other gators and Croc received a new area to be shared with his new partner.  St. Augustine’s Alligator Farm decided the crocodile would be their new male for breeding since he was such a good looking animal!  All are reported to be doing very well and settling into their new surroundings. 
            ZooAmerica’s two remaining alligators (Victor and Zorro) from our education department were moved to exhibit in the Southern Swamps building.  The education alligators were moved because they were a bit too big for the education area and getting larger and more feisty for us to hold!

           While in Florida, our curator, Dale Snyder, picked up three new baby alligators for our education department. They are only 10 inches long and enjoying their new home.  All three gators are fitting in very nicely and have already been used for a few programs. We have many things planned for these new members of our education team. 

One of our newest baby alligators in their pool

            When alligators are first hatched, they are only 6 inches long and are very vulnerable.  Once emerged from their eggs, they make their way down to the water where their protective mother is waiting to scoop them up into her mouth.  The mother will protect the babies from many predators such as birds, larger fish and even other alligators.  While they grow, their diet consists of several items including small fish, insects, bits of meat and worms.  Despite being small at hatch, these ferocious little hunters grow up very quickly and are soon the kings of the swamp.  A single alligator can reach anywhere from 14 feet to 18 feet long but will never stop growing.  They can bite down with over 2,000 pounds of force! 
            So the next time you are at the zoo, be sure to check out Victor and Zorro on exhibit.  Also be on the look out for our newest alligators during our special events or anytime ZooAmerica is in your area!

(article & photograph submitted by Patrick Miller, one of our educators at ZooAmerica)