When we got there, this sweet little peacock actually FLEW OUT of the park to greet us in the parking lot. Little did we know that he would follow us around for the rest of the day. He seemed to like us & was very careful when he leaped to take the food my hubby decided to feed him, but was very careful not to bite his hand.
Then you get to the BIG stars of the show. You get amazingly close to these Alligators & as crazy as it seems, there is such a comfort to this park. The animals all seem to be very well taken care of and very comfortable with people...although I wouldn't walk in there, I had no fear.
I learned that Alligators have to be 72 degrees inside their bodies to digest their food. They only need approximately 35 pounds of food a year, so they can go long periods of time without eating. But when they do eat, they have a 3,000 pound pressure point per square inch. You should HEAR the sound when they chomp their food!
I also learned that Alligators need the outside temperature to be 75-80 degrees to be active. In the picture below, the Gator in the front is Jaws, he's the oldest in the park at 85 years. Alligators live easily past 100 years old in captivity - but in the wild, they usually last 35-40 years because they usually get rid of each other.
You can tell an Alligator's age by the scoops on the back of his neck. The taller & thicker the scoops are determines the age. They actually keep the Gators in different areas according to size, because the smaller ones wouldn't last too long if they didn't separate them. The Gators above are actually "Runts" because they're only 14 feet at 85 years old - he should really be at least 20 feet.
Gators can stay in the water for 4 hours at a time, come up for one breath & go back under water. A baby can stay under for an hour at a time. There is a Jungle Cruise that is included with admission where you see lots of alligators in their natural habitat. The water is green because of Duckweed, a plant native to Florida - the smallest of flowering plants. It is part of the Ecosystem of Florida's wetlands.It is a food source for certain types of fish and acts as a filtration system by removing toxins from fish waste.
You also pass a replica of a Spanish Fort along the Jungle Cruise that you can visit.
One wonderful part of our day was "Standing Bear" a Native American who volunteers his time to show us a replica of a Native American Indian Village. He tells us what it was like back in the day when the Spanish & English came into this land. They have replicas of "Chickees" that show where the Indians lived. Chickee means structure / the word they used for "house." The sleeping quarters are on the 2nd floor because in the summer the ground gets too hot to sleep on. Usually 12-22 people live in one Chickee because parents & grandparents live with the family.
Back to the animals, you get up close & personal, our Peacocks were truly our "buddies" in the park today! I was having a chat with this one.
I have a very special fondness to BEARS...and this bear was my FAVORITE! I love how he sits & how comfy he gets! The birds near him in the pics below seemed to have no fear, but one small sound that the bear was "done" and the birds quickly stepped back to give the bear due space.