The Alligator Farm

A muscled trainer vaulted over the viewing wall and landed cat-like in the midst of the gator pool.  Hungry alligators caught the scent of rats and pellets- alligator food- and rushed forward in a frenzy, barely able to distinguish between man and food.  The St. Augustine Alligator Farm trainer leaped to safety in a small wooden boat- just in time as a massive male loudly snapped his powerful jaws and regretfully turned away to bide his time…

Ok, ok… The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is more about education than theatrics but we had an exciting visit yesterday and learned a lot about crocodylus- literally “pebbled worm”, in the Greek. But then everything is bigger in America ;) .

The first thing I noticed upon entrance was how orderly and clean everything is.  If it’s been a few years since your last visit, give them another chance.   Keepers were accessable throughout our time in the park- feeding the animals, cleaning glass in the exhibits and always willing to answer our questions.

I have a new appreciation for their up-to-date signage!  One exhibit had nesting birds inside, so the egg-eating primates that typically share the cage have been temporarily relocated.  Because of the laminated note tacked to the sign, we immediately spotted the nest… and didn’t spend 10 minutes trying to find little monkeys who weren’t in there!  Bravo, Alligator Farm!

We explored the Land of  Crocodiles during our first hour at this St. Augustine Zoo.  I was fascinated to learn that this exhibit features EVERY KIND of croc species living today worldwide!!  As far as I know, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is the only zoo in the world with all 23 species on display!  Makes me hometown proud!!

After an hour of sign reading and I-spy-a-croc-with-a-giant-bump-on-his-nose-ing, my littles were ready to run.  Enter Kids Zone.  Monkey bars, picnic tables, a preschool sized playset and some silly photo ops gave everyone space to get the wiggles out before the Alligator Feeding.

I was especially happy to find this handwashing station in the Kids Zone.  We washed up, bought popcorn and found a great spot to watch the Alligator Feeding at noon.

I thought we were up close and personal during the feeding, but some crazy tourists actually went IN THE CAGE and took a picture touching a huge alligator ($50).  Of course Timothy (7) wanted to but alas, he’s too young. {whew!}

Next, we toured Native Florida so we can ID all the critters we see in our woods…

And, on the way to MAXIMO (largest croc in captivity), we found the Pacific Island Reptiles Exhibit which was AMAZING because it’s air conditioned.  And we saw snakes from recently read books Rikki Tikki Tavi and Jungle Book (King Cobra and Python).  Win win.

Everywhere we turned, we saw a different kind of gator or croc.  The boys loved it!  Clara (2) said her favorite part was “Alligator not bite me.”  We were constantly reminded of their special diets “Don’t feed the gators” so they were ecstatic to finally find one they could feed!

Allow yourselves at least two hours for your visit- we were there 2 1/2 and didn’t take the nature walk or see any keeper demonstrations/shows except the alligator feeding.  I would’ve loved to read more signs… but I’ll save that for when my littles aren’t trying to become alligator bait!

St. Augustine Alligator Farm
999 Anastasia Blvd
(904) 824-3337

p.s. You can do a zipline obstacle course around the zoo!  It is REALLY fun- here’s a Zip the Zoo blog!
p.p.s. Grandparents: buy a pass and take your grandkids FREE!  That’s how my kiddos got in this trip, I was a guest so I could share this post with you.
p.p.p.s. LOCALS: Show your St. Johns County ID for 30% off admission to the alligator farm {not zipline}!  Woot woot!  For additional locals discounts, check out this page: St Augustine Local Discounts 

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