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.



Making Holiday Memories at Newport Aquarium

by Madison Wallace, Newport Aquarium Public Relations Aide

Walking through the Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa, it’s impossible not to feel like a kid again. At Newport Aquarium, we invite you to experience the holidays under the sea in a brand new way.

For more than 10 years, Scuba Santa has been delighting the greater Cincinnati area, and now the entire aquarium is joining in the holiday cheer.

This year was Sophia’s first time meeting Scuba Santa. Five years old, she was filled with nervous anticipation as she waited in line to see the big man himself.

She had been drawn to Shark Ray Bay by the sound of Scuba Santa’s elves singing Jingle Bells and laughing happily, but now that she was here, it all seemed a little bit overwhelming. As she got closer to the front of the line, something distracted her: bubbles were falling from the ceiling! Catching and popping bubbles, she almost didn’t realize it was her turn.

Although Sophia wasn’t quite sure what she wanted when Scuba Santa asked, there was a place for her to write down her Christmas wish on a bubble near the Penguin Palooza.

“I’m better reached by magic bubble, anyway,” said Scuba Santa with a smile. “Just tell Mighty Mike I said ‘hello’, okay?”

Kids can tell Scuba Santa what they'd like from Christmas

Kids of all ages  can tell Scuba Santa what they’d like for Christmas in Shark Ray Bay theater. (file photo)

Meeting Scuba Santa was most certainly one of her favorite holiday memories. And it’s one she will probably repeat every year.

Making fantastic memories and new traditions is easy with Newport Aquarium’s holiday celebration. With festive, holiday-decorated exhibits, families of all ages are able to experience Christmas, while at the same time exploring the ocean.

Decorated galleries include Shark Ray Bay featuring Scuba Santa, Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery, Gator Alley, and Penguin Palooza.

The first exhibit you’ll encounter is the Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery. Featuring hundreds of lights twinkling from above as beautiful sea creatures weave their way through, it’s impossible to not feel wonder at the strange creatures in this beautiful setting.

Holiday lights and festive fish decorate the Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery during Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa.

Holiday lights and festive fish decorate the Bizarre and Beautiful Gallery during Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa.

Gator Alley is home to Mighty Mike, the largest Alligator outside of Florida. After warmly welcoming Snowball and Snowflake, the white gators, in 2013, he generously agreed to share his home with bright, colorful lights and some mischievous reindeer.

Penguin Palooza captures the excitement of Christmas, with penguins flitting in and out of the water and playing with snowmen, while children have the opportunity to write letters on magic bubbles to Scuba Santa.

From chasing and playing with the bubbles filling the front lobby, to meeting Scuba Santa and exploring Newport Aquarium’s underwater celebration, Water Wonderland with Scuba Santa is an experience the whole family will enjoy. Plus, you can experience the offering of the aquarium’s more than 10,000 animals.

Scuba Santa greets kids while diving in the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.

Scuba Santa greets kids while diving in the aquarium’s 385,000 gallon  Surrounded by Sharks exhibit, the home of nearly two dozen sharks.

This Christmas, combine the classic traditions of meeting Santa Claus and listening to beloved Christmas music with the magic of the holidays under the sea and connecting with your family and friends.

For more information on Newport Aquarium, or to purchase tickets, visit or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474). Connect with Newport Aquarium on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to its blog, for the most up-to-date news on Newport Aquarium.


Newport Aquarium has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since May 15, 1999. Named one of the best aquariums in the U.S. by Travel Channel and USA Today, 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 located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Stay Hooked In: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | YouTube | WordPress

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444

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 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: | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444

See You Later Alligator at Newport Aquarium

Guests have until Feb. 28 to say goodbye to Snowball and Snowflake, take advantage of Winter Family Days savings

Snowball cheesing

Snowball cheesing

NEWPORT, Ky. – Time is running out for Newport Aquarium guests to see in person two extremely rare albino American alligators and to take advantage of one of the aquarium’s best offers of the year.

Snowball and Snowflake – two of less than 100 white alligators in the world – will be moved off exhibit the evening of Feb. 28, 2014, in preparation for their return to Wild Adventures Water & Theme Park in Valdosta, Ga.

Additionally, Feb. 28 represents the last day for guests to take advantage of Newport Aquarium’s Winter Family Days special, when two children 12 and under are admitted FREE* with the purchase of one non-discounted adult ticket.

No matter how frosty the weather is outside, Newport Aquarium’s climate-controlled indoor facility is always a comfortable 74 degrees, providing guests a safe and fun entertainment option year round. There is always more new to see and do at Newport Aquarium:

  • Surrounded by Sharks – Guests can walk through a 385,000-gallon tank filled with rare and exotic shark ray, as well as tiger sharks, zebra sharks, stingrays, and a curious 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle named Denver.
  • Gator Alley – Showcasing eight species from four continents, Gator Alley is one of the most diverse collections of crocodilians in the country. It’s also the home of Mighty Mike – who at 14 feet and 800 pounds is the biggest and baddest alligator in the country outside of Florida.
  • Kroger Penguin Palooza – With five different species, it boasts one of the most diverse collections of cold-weather penguins in the country.
  • Frog Bog – The Frog Bog is the largest exhibit of its kind in the Midwest with nearly 20 species of exotic frogs. Children can find secret frog tanks visible only when they climb through tunnels and tubes in our kids-only Frog Bog jungle gym.
  • Jellyfish Gallery – With more than 100 jellyfish on display, guests can marvel at the largest and coolest jellyfish exhibit in the Midwest.

Winter Family Days tickets are available at the Newport Aquarium ticket window, at, or by calling toll-free 800-406-FISH (3474).

Newport Aquarium, the No. 1 aquarium in the country according to USA Today’s, is located in Newport, Ky. across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio. Newport Aquarium was named a 2013 top U.S. aquarium by Travel Channel. A leading tri-state destination, the state-of-the-art facility is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a leader in global wildlife conservation.

*This special offer cannot be combined with other discounts or coupons.


Scuba Santa® Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary by Gifting White Gators to Newport Aquarium


White American alligators Snowball (left) and Snowflake were delivered to Newport Aquarium from Scuba Santa as part of his 10-year anniversary celebration.

NEWPORT, Ky. – In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of Scuba Santa’s® Water Wonderland, world-renowned Scuba Santa revealed Tuesday a pair of rare white American Alligators for Newport Aquarium.

The white alligators, Snowflake and Snowball, will call the Rainforest Exhibit their home throughout the Water Wonderland experience, which runs Nov. 29, 2013, through Jan. 1, 2014, except for Christmas Day, when Scuba Santa rests from his big night. Each gator measures roughly six feet in length, with the female Snowflake weighing approximately 65 pounds and the male Snowball weighing 85 pounds. In Newport Aquarium’s constant efforts to offer guests more new to see and do, Snowflake and Snowball are two of less than approximately 100 known white alligators in the world.

“Because of their lack of camouflage and sensitivity to UV rays, white alligators have a low survival rate in the wild,” said Ric Urban, Animal Ambassador. “Our ability to display these two rare animals in a well-lit area while shielding them from dangerous UV rays in the Rainforest Exhibit provides our guests with a very unique opportunity to get up close and personal with these two natural wonders.”

The Scuba Santa® Water Wonderland – which has been featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America”, NBC’s “The Today Show”, CBS’ “The Early Show”, USA Today and The New York Times – is one of the tri-state area’s favorite holiday traditions. The Kentucky Travel Industry Association has named it a Winter/Holiday Top 10 Festivals & Events in each of the past two years, and five of the last nine overall.

Scuba Santa® and his magical underwater sleigh, seahorses and Pixie the elf will delight and amaze while inside a 385,000-gallon tank filled with tiger sharks, zebra sharks, stingrays, four rare and exotic shark rays, as well as a very curious 200-pound loggerhead sea turtle named Denver. The dive show features Scuba Santa entertaining the audience from beneath the sea, highlighted by a special underwater reading of “Twas the Night before Christmas” from Santa’s Magic Story Book.

Annual Pass Sale: In time for the holidays, guests who purchase three Newport Aquarium Annual Passes will receive a fourth Annual Pass free. The Annual Pass Holiday Special ends on Dec. 31. Existing Annual Passholders can renew their passes during this promotion to receive $3 off the renewal rate for even more savings.

For more information on Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland and the white gators, visit or call 800-406-3474.