With Hurricane Joaquin behind us, we were finally able to move forward with the alligator transfer! On Wednesday, Oct. 21, our large exhibit American Alligator was taken out of the Cypress Swamp exhibit and prepared for transportation. The herpetology department worked swiftly to prep the gator while doing their best to stress him out as little as possible. A final weight of 136 lbs was obtained before the gator transport was loaded into the van.
After a long drive down to Myrtle Beach, we arrived at Alligator Adventure, a small zoo that prominently features a wide array of reptile species. Caring for over 900 crocodilians ranging from hatchlings to full size alligators, Alligator Adventure has the facilities necessary to care for our growing male. After being released into his new pond, our old gator took right to the water, seemingly eager to explore his new outdoor enclosure (and new alligator companions!)
After a brief tour of the facility, we were taken back to the veterinary facility to choose a new baby alligator. We opted for the smallest hatchling they had; a little gator that was only about a year old. At such a small size, this young alligator will be available for animal programs and shows for several years to come (be sure to visit the museum to see him early next year!).
So what about the gator exhibit? Well, since this new hatchling will be going on programs in the near future, our current program alligator will be getting an upgrade. At a little over 4 feet, he has become difficult for program handling, and so only a few of our education staff can use him. He will be transferred to the alligator exhibit soon, where he will spend the next few years growing in the view of the public. Because he is still considered small, he will have a companion in the exhibit: a common snapping turtle.
So make plans to visit the Virginia Living Museum soon! A new alligator will soon be on exhibit alongside a snapping turtle, as well as a new baby gator for public animal shows (not to mention a new loggerhead sea turtle in the Chesapeake Bay Aquarium!). As for our old male alligator, we wish him well in his newer, larger home!