Jul 29, 2014
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New American Alligator Exhibit Coming to Stone Zoo

To celebrate exhibit's opening, Lyle the Crocodile will make an appearance May 24 and 25 with story times and more.

New American Alligator Exhibit Coming to Stone Zoo
This Memorial Day weekend, visitors to Stone Zoo will see some scaly new faces with big toothy grins when the new American alligator exhibit opens.

The American alligator exhibit, which will be within the Alfred Huang North American Crane Exhibit, will feature three alligators, which range in size from 5 to 7 feet in length. This new space will offer visitors a chance to view these incredible creatures and observe them as they move throughout their pool and bask in the sun, according to a statement released by the zoo.

“We are really looking forward to the debut of the exciting new American alligator exhibit. It presents a wonderful opportunity to educate guests of all ages about these incredibly powerful animals,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO, who added, “Because sandhill cranes spend part of the year in the same geographic range as American alligators, we are able to highlight both of these creatures as well as the important role they play in healthy ecosystems in the southern United States.”

To celebrate the opening of the new American alligator exhibit at Stone Zoo, Lyle the Crocodile, the main character from the popular series of children’s books, will make a special appearance on Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25. Storytime will be held at 11 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. and after each session there will be a meet and greet with the costumed Lyle the Crocodile.

Throughout the day, children and families will also have the opportunity to meet with zookeepers during scheduled zookeeper encounters at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to learn more about alligators as well as about the similarities and differences between alligators and crocodiles.

According to a statement from Stone Zoo, the story of the American alligator is also a great example of people’s ability to help species recover. In 1967, American alligators were declared endangered. As a result of a prohibition on hunting combined with collaborative state and federal efforts, this unique species was declared fully recovered in 1987, marking one of the first endangered species recovery stories.

The American alligator exhibit is a permanent seasonal exhibit at Stone Zoo. Visitors will be able to see the alligators on exhibit into the early fall.

In addition to the large adult alligators, visitors will also be able to see “gators” up close with the three smaller animals, measuring 1 foot long each, that will be featured program animals utilized by the zoo’s Education department.According to Zoo officials, Adult American alligators are extremely strong and formidable predators. They use their long, muscular tails to propel through the water and their incredible bite power to catch and hold onto prey. These animals help to control populations of prey species and also create “alligator holes,” which are invaluable to other species in dry seasons and winter. Red-bellied turtles, for example, incubate their eggs in old alligator nests, which consist of piled vegetation.

Male alligators can measure nearly 15 feet long, while females can measure 10 feet long. They are the most vocal of all crocodilians, and communication begins before babies even hatch out of their eggs. When they are ready to hatch, the young make high-pitched whining noises. Alligators commonly bellow and roar at one another, and the loud bellow can be heard up to 165 yards away. During courting, alligators emit cough-like purrs.

In the wild, American alligators can be found in freshwater swamps, marshes, rivers and lakes in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers this species threatened as populations are not entirely stable throughout its range.

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