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.
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.