After a morning of boogie boarding and cannonballs in the pool, the kid and I decided to head over to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.  It’s not really a farm, but more like a zoo.  They help to preserve endangered wildlife and educate the public on alligators and crocodiles and a variety of other animals on display, like the Prevast’s Squirrel and the Lay’s Potato Chip Squirrel. 

Prevast's Squirrel

Lay's Potato Chip Squirrel

As one might expect, there are alot of alligators at the Alligator Farm.  What one might not expect is that there are a bazillion different types of alligators and crocodiles.  And caimans. There are alot of caimans.  And Cubans.  Well, Cuban crocodiles.  This is Florida so having Cuban crocodiles is only natural, I guess.  There are Haitians and snowbirds, and alot of New Yorkers! Eh…moving on.
The big attraction, and I mean big, is Gomek.  But he’s dead.  Gomek, however, has his own shrine built for him and it showcases not only a guesstimation timeline of his life (he died in 1997 between the age of 60 and 80 years old…nobody knows!), a plaque commemorating the crazy looney who caught him (Gomek was nearly 18 feet long), and a number of alligator jaws and teeth and other stuff that gives you the wibblies.  It also boasts a life-size model of Gomek.  One word: GINORMOGANTUAN!
Now the big attraction is Maximo.  His will never be able to fill Gomek’s shoes, but he’s 15 feet of jaws and claws and I’m not about to tell him he’s rated second-best. 
What did surprise me about the alligators is just how beautiful, how breathtakingly gorgeous the albino alligators really are when you’re seeing them in person.  Only recently discovered in 1992, they originally hail from the swamps of Louisiana.  My photos can’t do these creatures justice so here’s one I found on the internet instead:
The rest of this stuff really has to be experienced in person.  It’s enough to make you jump out of your skin.  Elle and I were having lunch just a few feet away from the big feeding attraction at noon and all we could hear was snap! snap! snap! Massive jaws clamping down on rats and chickens…even the occasional crunch! crunch! crunch! made its way into my ears.  It’s just the bones, said the keeper, just bones.

About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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3 Responses to Swampfun

  1. David Patterson says:

    Wow… am pretty happy that we don’t run into critters like those up here in Maine! The gators… not the squirrels 🙂

  2. Chris says:

    Alexis’ first memory of taking Brett’s class there when he was little was the crunch crunch of the chickens. When they went, Gomek had just died, so that tells you how long ago it was.

    • Dena says:

      I’d like to know how they managed to subdue Gomek in the wild..I mean, seriously? I wouldn’t stick around if I saw something that ginormous anywhere NEAR me, much less decide to bring it home!

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