St Augustine Florida has many wonderful sites to visit. One of my favorite would have been a delight for Crocodile Dundee. Well, if he had been happy with alligators, that is.
The alligaotr farm is located on the way to old St Augustine, about four miles outside of town. If you are coming in from the west, you will drive by it. Otherwise, it will be worth your short drive outside of St. Augustine to get there.
Two local St Augustine men, George Reddington and Alex Fire, began capturing alligators on the south end of Anastasia Island in 1888. This is a small island near St Augustine. These two men decided to open the Alligator Farm on the south end of the island in 1893, to hosue all of the alligators and local animals hey had captured. Many of these animals were injured and they had doctored them back to health.
By the end of the century, the Alligator Farm had become a well known attraction, but in order to attract more people to that part of Florida and to the park, the park was advertised in national publications. One of these was a 1911 business guide for travelers. At the time of that article, it stated that there were hundreeds of reptiles at the farm. By 1916, that numer had grown to thousands.
But hard times came to the farm, and a noreaster in 1920 wiped out the train tracks leading to the edge of the island. In 1921, a fire did more damage. The owners were already in the process of moving the park before these events. It was moved to the north side of the island.In 1937, the park was sold to two area business men who relocated the park to a site where they had purchased two buildings. The park is still there to this day.
Since that time, the park has collected animals from rescue missions and from local zoos. The North Miami Zoo and the Daytona Airport Zoo, both donated their animals when they closed down. Gradually over the years, the park added other exoctic animals to their collection.
So what will you see when you go to the zoo? You will of course be treated to a video and speech about the zoo and its history, if you wish. If not, you can go directly to the five exhibits.
The first exhibit is the Maximo exhibit. He is a saltwater crocdile that was donated from Australian Aobrigones. They collected his egg and gave it to the governement in Australia who donated it to the U.S. Maximo is now 15 feet long, 1250 pounds, and 40 years old. He might live to be 60!
The next exhibit is the Wading Bird Rookery. Hundereds of wading birds can be seen here. The variety includes herons, egrets, spoonbills, and wood storks. From April to July the birds are bredding and you can watch them prepare for their offspring. You might even be lucky enough to see some of the eggs hatch.
The third exhibit is the Albino Alligators. They were received from the swamps in Lousiaina. Fortune tellers say that anyone looking on an albino alligator, will have good fortune.
The next exhibit is Gomek Forever. Gomek is a rare 18 foot long croccidle. He is one of the largest croocidles ever in a zoo. He has become famous and is even on handcarved art work in New Guinea.
Last but not least is the Exoctic Birds and Animal exhibit. You will be able to see toucans, parrots, and Australian emus. You might even find an Asian pheasants and the rare African turaco. The mammals include seven different kiinds of monkeys.
Adults can enter the park for 19.95. Children 11 and under are admitted for 10.95. The regular hours of the park are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However during the summer the park is open until 6 p.m. The park is closed on all national holidays. If you visit their website, www.alligatorfarm.us, you can print a discount coupon. Parking is free at the park.
Be sure and visit the Alligator Farm the next time you are near St Augustine. Believe me, iit is worth your time.