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