In 1893, two friends named George Reddington and Felix Fire, who were avid outdoorsmen, opened up a public display of their American Alligator collection. Located on Anastasia Island just off the historic city of St Augustine FL, by 1910 the "St Augustine Alligator Farm" became a popular attraction with vacationers who were arriving on the newly completed Flagler railroad. At the end of 1920, the Alligator farm was hit by a violent storm and then had two fires in quick succession. As a result, the entire attraction was relocated several miles away on the south coast of the island. During the 30's and 40's the Alligator Farm expanded its collection and was soon exhibiting ostriches, monkeys, giant tortoises and native Florida snakes and turtles. With help from the Florida Audubon Society, a large outdoor area was set up for wild egrets, herons and storks to breed. In 1989, the Alligator Farm was accredited as a zoo by the AZA, and began to focus its attention on captive-breeding of endangered crocodilians and educating the public about these animals. By 1993, the Alligator Farm had breeding pairs of all of the 23 known crocodilian species--the only place in the world to do so--and has been captive-breeding them for release in the wild. Here are some photos from a recent visit:
Baby American Alligators.
A keeper feeding the baby gators.
An albino American Alligator, with an adult river turtle on his back.
Adult American Alligator.
A female Saltwater Crocodile next to her nest mound.
A Pope's Pit Viper.
The Bird Rookery.
Wood Storks on their nest
Roseate Spoonbill nestlings
Tri-Colored Heron nestlings
Snowy Egret nestling
A bull American Alligator roaring and giving his territorial mating display.
Nephila clavipes, the Golden Silk Orb Weaver Spider. A Florida native who has set up shop in one of the bird enclosures.
Feeding time for the White-Backed Vultures and a Maribou Stork.
Feeding time for the American Alligators.
Feeding time for the tortoises. The big ones are Yellow-Foot Tortoises from South America. I'm not sure what the two smaller ones are: I think the one with the taller domed shell is a Malaysian Box Turtle, but I wouldn't swear to that in court.
The severely endangered Morelet's Crocodile.
A Leopard Frog and a baby Red-Eared Slider.
Reticulated Python. He looked to be around 15 feet long.
An albino Florida Cottonmouth.