New home for American alligators
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.