Alligator Awareness Day

Today is Alligator Awareness Day. Alligators are mainly spotted in the southeastern parts of the United States, including Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, but you can spot seven American Alligators right here at Newport Aquarium! American alligators are the first animals to ever be put on the endangered species list, but were later removed thanks to education and conservation of the species.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

White Alligators:

Our white alligators are the most unique because not many of them are found in the wild or even in zoos or aquariums. Snowball (14 years old) and Snowflake (12 years old) are two of fewer than 100 known white alligators in the world.

These unique creatures look the way they do because they are albino, specifically a type called amelanistic. Biologist, Erin Muldoon said this means the alligators have “a loss of the pigment, melanin. This gives them their white skin and red eyes.” This condition also gives them the inability to blend in with their surroundings, or protect themselves from the sun.

Just as certain genes are passed down from a parent to a child, Snowball and Snowflake would most likely pass down Albinism if these two were to have babies.

Baby Gators:

Newport Aquarium currently has four baby alligators. Carl, Willard, Edmund, and Murphy are ambassador animals for their species. They are part of our Animal Outreach Program. They were all born in August 2015 at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

baby alligator

Guests get a one-on-one interaction with a baby alligator during a Backstage Animal Experience.

In order to keep people interested and informed about these gators, guests at Newport Aquarium are able to get up close and personal with them. “Allowing guests to touch and interact with these animals helps to spark a connection that can inspire them to help preserve these animals and their wild habitat,” said Muldoon.

The WAVE Foundation at Newport Aquarium takes the baby alligators to schools, libraries, daycare centers and senior centers. To learn more about having the WAVE on Wheels Educational Outreach Program visit you, click here.

Our baby gators will eventually return to St. Augustine once they reach a certain length and size, and then we will welcome a new batch of baby gators!

Mighty Mike:

Our well known gator Mighty Mike made his debut return with us in 2013, and has been catching the eyes of many ever since.

Mighty Mike

Guests can get eye-to-eye with Mighty Mike in Gator Alley.

Guests can get eye-to-eye with Mighty Mike in Gator Alley. Mike is around 15 feet long and is estimated to weigh around 700-800 lbs.

You must be thinking…How do you feed such a BIG gator? “He is target trained, which means that he must come to a target to get his food. One of his current favorites right now is chicken,” Muldoon said.

Feeding Mighty Mike

Herpetologists, Erin Muldoon and Ryan Dumas have target trained Mighty Mike.

Alligator Facts:
There are only two species of true alligators in the world, the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) and the endangered Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensis).

Compared to crocodiles, alligators have a rounder and wider “U” shaped snout. Also, when the alligator’s jaw is closed, the fourth bottom tooth cannot be seen.

Most alligators prefer to live in fresh water.

Stop by and discover the wonder of all of the animals at Newport Aquarium – the land-dwelling species, and aquatic animals, and we’re sure you’ll make memories worth repeating.

To learn more about the Backstage Animal Experience at Newport Aquarium, click here.

 

 

Takeover Tuesday: The Guest Experience

Takeover Tuesday features a “day in the life” of biologists, and exhibits staff at Newport Aquarium. Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Hello, my name is Greg Moore, I’m a Guest Experience Supervisor here at Newport Aquarium, and I’m taking over your Tuesday!

Greg with baby gator

Baby alligator, Willard, is one of the ambassador animals at Newport Aquarium. Guests have an opportunity to meet an ambassador animal, during a daily Animal Outreach in the Stingray Hideaway lobby.

As a Guest Experience Supervisor, my focus is making sure guests have the most memorable experience, and create memories worth repeating! At the Tide Pool, guests can touch amazing creatures including sea stars, horseshoe crabs and anemones.

At Newport Aquarium, guests can Sea, Touch, and Explore… Together!

Tidepool (2)

Throughout the day, our team is stationed throughout the aquarium, to welcome guests, answer questions, and teach you about the amazing animals you’ll meet.

Shark Ray Bay Theater (2)

Denver the loggerhead sea turtle joined our morning meeting. He welcomes guests to Shark Ray Bay Theater, and often likes to hang out in that window.

I love leading the team.  It can be a stressful job, but so rewarding.  All the jobs my team does, I also will do at any given day.  In the morning, we’ll have a team clean all the acrylic throughout the aquarium, to get rid of any smudges or salt residue.  Cleaning the penguin window is the best, because they’re so active in the morning and sometimes follow the pole.

Cleaning window Penguin Palooza (2)

Some of the King penguins go for a morning swim in Penguin Palooza.

Interacting with guests, especially kids, is one of my favorite things.  To see a child’s excitement as they get to walk four feet above the shark tank, touch a shark for the first time, or even learn something new about these beautiful animals and what we can do to keep them around for future generations, is the highlight of my day!

Amazon tunnel (2)

A diver poses while in the Amazon tank.

When I was a kid, my all-time beloved animals were the penguins. So naturally, my favorite part of working at Newport Aquarium is working with the African Penguins.

Penguin House (2)

When guests visit Newport Aquarium, they can purchase a Penguin Encounter and get up close and personal with these adorable birds. 

When a guest is surprised by how they feel, about their crazy characteristics, how their population is declining, makes me proud to be a part of that. African penguins are an endangered species. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums launched the Invest in The Nest campaign to help save these endangered penguins in the wild.

InvestInTheNestInstagramCollageNumberTwo.png

So, when you come to the aquarium, I may be helping you touch a shark, teaching you about our sea turtle, or showing you some penguins. Hope to see you soon!

Plan your visit to Newport Aquarium: Things To Do, Visitor Tips, Additional Experiences, Penguin Encounters, Aquarium Activities, Shows and Feeds.

#Takeover Tuesday

Newport Aquarium Celebrates the Successful Comeback of American Alligators

NEWPORT, Ky. — Thursday marks a historic anniversary for the preservation of one of the most recognizable animals in the United States – the American alligator.

Twenty-eight years ago on June 4, 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the American alligator from the Endangered Species List, just 20 years after the implementation of the Endangered Species Preservation Act.

After enjoying a bountiful population for millions of years, the American alligator became on the verge of extinction in the 20th century, mostly due to over-hunting for the production of consumer goods.

Thankfully, with the help of the Endangered Species Preservation Act (1966) and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the over-hunting of American alligators came to a halt.

Today, the American alligator population is thriving throughout the Southeastern U.S. – so much so that they sometimes give people a cheap thrill by showing up unannounced in their back yards.

Mighty Mike is more than 14 feet long and 800 pounds.

Mighty Mike is more than 14 feet long and 800 pounds.

Such was the case for Mighty Mike – the biggest and baddest alligator outside the state of Florida who resides at Newport Aquarium. Back in 2000, the more than 14-foot, 800-pound gator was found basking on a boat dock in Lake Talquin, Fla. Because of his large size, Mighty Mike was considered a threat to locals. State wildlife authorities declared him a nuisance and ordered him destroyed, as required by Florida law.

Fortunately, the trapper who caught Mighty Mike knew he was special because of his size and asked a local reptile expert to provide Mighty Mike with a new home. Since that time, Mighty Mike has served as a traveling ambassador for American alligators and has captivated millions of viewers who marvel at his enormous size.

Despite the American alligator’s overall population thriving, the species has a subpopulation that is in danger of becoming extinct – white (either albino or leucistic) American alligators.

Because they have a difficult time blending into their surroundings, making them either easy-to-spot prey or easy-to-avoid ambush predators, there are less than 100 known white alligators in the world.

Newport Aquarium is the home to two albino American alligators, Snowball (male) and Snowflake (female). Since their gene pools are separated far enough, it is the hope of Newport Aquarium officials that Snowball and Snowflake will eventually mate to help with this subpopulation’s growth.

Guests can see Mighty Mike, Snowball and Snowflake at Newport Aquarium’s Gator Alley exhibit, which showcases six species of crocodilians from four continents – one of the most diverse collections of crocodilian species in the country.

###

Newport Aquarium, voted the No. 1 aquarium in the country by USA Today’s 10Best.com in 2012, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler and Destinations Travel Magazine in 2014, and also by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Find us on: Facebook.com/NewportAquarium | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444
www.newportaquarium.com