BEHIND THE SCENES: Learn about the American Alligator at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo

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MONROE, LA (03/27/20)– Although the coronavirus has stopped regular attendance at the zoo, we thought we’d bring the animals to you.

The Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo has many different animals, some climb, others swim.
However, the alligator is an important animal to the state of Louisiana. Back in the 1960s, there was an estimate of only 15 thousand alligators in the state, which encouraged residents to save them.

“One is they started protecting their habitat, number two is they limited the hunting and number three they started programs where they were raising the alligators in the farms,” said Joe Clawson, Director at Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo.

As years past, they changed history for our state. Today, there are over a million and a half alligators in Louisiana alone and you can find them in every body of water.

“If you go at night and flick on a real strong spotlight, every pair of red dots you see is an alligator,” said Clawson.

While this baby alligator is only a handful right now, he will get a lot bigger. The biggest American Alligator in the world tops in at 18 feet and 3 inches.

Baby American Alligators have pins for teeth and eat bugs and small frogs until they are big enough to eat birds, turtles, and snakes. However, before they become the big predator of the swamps, baby alligators can actually be the prey.

“When they are little like this they can be eaten by fish, birds notably heron, will eat baby alligators,” said Clawson.

A common misconception about these swamp monsters is their webbed feet help them swim fast. However, the tail does all the work while their feet hang by their side.

“They have webbed feet so that they can walk in the mud without sinking,” said Clawson.

And as they walk away they say….see you later alligator. Zoo officials say the worst thing you can do is feed an alligator in the wild because they’ll associate people with food. You can tune back in next Friday as we going behind the scenes at the zoo again, to bring those kids at home some fun during this pandemic.

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