Florida Guide > Days Out
See the alligators – without going all the way to the Everglades
If you would like to see alligators in their own habitat then a trip to the Everglades is well worth while. The trouble is they are about 300 miles away from Orlando. So what is the alternative? Go for a day trip to Gatorland Zoo right in the heart of Orlando.
Many people do not realise that Orlando was originally part of the Everglades, in fact all of the forest land you see on some of the side roads in Orlando still are the Everglades. A friend of mine came to stay with us at our villa in Orlando and asked if there would be time to go to see the Everglades. I took her by the hand and led her to our back yard and pointed to the conservation area behind our pool and said, “There you go – the Everglades”.
So, when you visit Gatorland all you are seeing is a small part of the Everglades that has been preserved to conserve and protect alligators.
Whilst some are kept in pens the majority still swim in huge lakes in the park, enjoying the freedom of their natural habitat. Gatorland covers an area of some 110 acres and features thousands of alligators and crocodiles. Not only that, they also have an aviary, a reptile house, a petting zoo and many nature walks.
One of their more interesting exhibits is the breeding marsh with it’s observation tower. The tower goes up several levels and has information posted as to how they are bred in captivity but still given the freedom of their normal breeding grounds. This area is a wonderful photograph opportunity.
As well as all the natural things to see there are the shows. They have a reptilian show, a gator wrestling show, a gator jumperoo, the Gatorland Express Railway and the Up-Close Encounters show.
In the reptilian show, you get a chance to feel and even hold a snake. This makes you realise that they are not slimy at all but warm and smooth and really quite placid.
The gator wrestling is done by experts of course but they are fascinating to watch.
The gator jumperoo is the feeding time. Some of the alligators are encouraged to jump up high to catch their “prey” which is actually frozen chickens suspended on string and long poles held by the keepers. They only use frozen meat to discourage the gators from getting a taste for warm meat – YOU! !
The gator land Express takes the children to the Gator Gully Splash Park – a fun area just for them.
So if time is of a premium and you do not have time to drive all the way to the Everglades, try the Gatorland Zoo
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