Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. through Sept. 30; 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. starting Oct. 1, Admission: $11 Adults, $6 Child;
Creature Feature: Alligator
This guy is one of our most popular education animals at Blank Park Zoo.
Zoo alligator, Toe Ring
His name is Toe Ring (aptly name for his toe ring, given to him as an identification marker by his previous owner), and he is one of three alligators at the Zoo used for education programs such as school visits, early education classes, library programs and more.
Toe Ring is the oldest of the three at about 7 years old. He’s considered to be a juvenile alligator, which means he’s not a baby but still has a ways until he’s full grown. He’s a couple feet long now and can grow up to be 13-15 feet long. Gators keep growing all of their lives, which can be up to 80 years in captivity. (We won’t keep him until he’s that big! Just until he’s too big to handle safely.)
Our three alligators came from a gator farm in Florida (true story!) but they can be found in the southeastern United States, including Alabama, Arkansas, North & South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. They reside in freshwater swamps and marshes, and also in rivers, lakes and small bodies of water.
Toe Ring in his indoor holding bathtub
Toe Ring is one of a few dozen education animals the Zoo has, which are used for a variety of educational programming. The Zoo’s education department works to enhance both children’s and adults’ learning experience about exotic animals, conservation and more. The Zoo has dedicated team that focuses on:
- Educating teachers and giving them the tools to bring the Zoo to their classroom
- Bringing the Zoo directly to classrooms and libraries statewide
- Enhancing the visitor experience at special events and in the critter corner (the animals’ outdoor holding space)
- Providing early education for young children to enrich their pre-school learning experience
- Offering summer camps for children ages 3 to 7th grade for a week-long immersion in Zoo education
And so much more! Check out the Zoo’s education webpage for more information. Sign up for one of our programs and you may get to meet one of our gators!
Toe Ring being held by Daniela, the Zoo's education manager
More alligator fun facts:
- Alligators can swim up to 20 miles per hour and run on land as fast as 11 miles per hour for short distances if they need to.
- They have clear eyelids (called a nictitating membrane) that they close when they go underwater.
- A gator’s tongue doesn't move—it's attached to the bottom of its mouth.
- You can tell an alligator by its U-shaped head and only top teeth showing with its mouth closed. A crocodile has a V-shaped head and both top and bottom teeth show with its mouth closed.