American Alligator ~
American alligators range from Texas to Florida and north through the coastal plain of North Carolina. Alligators inhabit swamps, wetlands, ponds, and rivers throughout this region. They prey upon fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals in these aquatic habitats. The American alligator is an apex predator of these habitats in the southeastern U.S. and are integral to creation of burrow shelters within these habitats that eventually serve as shelter for many other species.
The American alligator is an American conservation success story. The American alligator was provided conservation protection in 1967 due to the threat of extinction of the species in the southeastern U.S. due to overhunting for leather and meat as well as loss of wetlands habitat. The protection provided for the species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as state wildlife agencies in the alligator’s range enabled populations of the American alligator to grow to a sustainable enough number by 1987 that the species was removed from the endangered species list!
The alligator we care for at the zoo is an albino alligator named Luna. She would not be able to survive in the wild because her lack of pigment would not allow her to camouflage from predators as a young alligator, or sneak up on prey. Her skin also lacks protection for the sun’s rays. We feed her thawed, frozen rats or chicks, as well as special zoo crocodilian diet pellets.