New home for Amer­i­can al­li­ga­tors

Isis Town and Country - - FRONT PAGE - Jodie Dixon Jodie.Dixon@isistc­

GOOD news comes in threes for Snakes Down Un­der Rep­tile Park and Zoo’s Ian Jenk­ins.

The new­est mem­bers to the zoo fam­ily are three Amer­i­can al­li­ga­tors.

The al­li­ga­tors ar­rived just weeks af­ter a sav­age at­tack that left an­i­mals dead, miss­ing and in­jured.

Mr Jenk­ins said Izzi the kan­ga­roo had re­cov­ered and had a mi­nor frac­ture, which vets said was heal­ing well.

“The two kan­ga­roos miss­ing af­ter the dog at­tack have both re­turned to the zoo and they both seem to be fine,” he said.

Mr Jenk­ins said zoo staff would con­tinue to mon­i­tor the kan­ga­roos for stress.

Wel­com­ing the al­li­ga­tor hatch­lings fol­lows a bat­tle over fees, charges and red tape that was al­most set for zoos.

The count­less ar­gu­ments for and against the reg­u­la­tions and high fees was “a rough fight” but in the end there has been a win for Mr Jenk­ins and other small zoos.

Mr Jenk­ins would have been forced to pay $453 per an­i­mal. He said it was a great win for the visi­tor, keep­ing the ticket price down.

The new hatch­lings will be free of the high fee and the reg­u­lar reg­is­tra­tion will con­tinue to ap­ply.

Mr Jenk­ins said the al­li­ga­tors would be part of the in­ter­ac­tive dis­play for the zoo.

“They are easy to han­dle and don’t bite like the croc­o­diles, they are eas­ier to man­age around peo­ple,” Mr Jenk­ins said.

The hatch­lings are cur­rently in pri­vate res­i­dences, away from the pub­lic eye.

At this early stage, as the hatch­lings grow, they will slowly get used to hu­man in­ter­ac­tion so they be­come less skit­tish.

“They will be on dis­play to the pub­lic very shortly and we have three new mem­bers of the zoo to name,” Mr Jenk­ins said.

Mr Jenk­ins said he was hop­ing the al­li­ga­tors were fe­male but “we need to wait some time be­fore be­ing able to iden­tify their sex”.

The Amer­i­can al­li­ga­tor in­hab­its fresh­wa­ter wet­lands, such as marshes and cy­press swamps, from Texas to North Carolina.

It is dis­tin­guished from the sym­patric Amer­i­can croc­o­dile by its broader snout, with over­lap­ping jaws and darker coloura­tion.

The al­li­ga­tor is less tol­er­ant of salt­wa­ter but more tol­er­ant of cooler cli­mates than the Amer­i­can croc­o­dile, which is found only in trop­i­cal cli­mates.

Adult male Amer­i­can al­li­ga­tors mea­sure 3.4–4.6m in length, and can weigh up to 453kg.

The adult fe­males are not much smaller, mea­sur­ing around 3m.

As for the tiny hatch­lings, they feed mostly on in­ver­te­brates such as in­sects, lar­vae, snails and spi­ders. They grad­u­ally ex­pand to larger prey.

They are easy to han­dle and don’t bite like crocs — Ian Jenk­ins


DOWN UN­DER: One of three new ar­rivals at Snakes Down Un­der, an Amer­i­can al­li­ga­tor.

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