Luckily, I was able to view alligators at all ages of life at Gatorama, and I was even able to hold this three year old. (You can't see this but its mouth is taped shut with duct tape. I think they call child services if you actually do that to your child.) This wasn't part of the program when Dorrit visited last year, and she declined the opportunity to expand on her gator experience. I will admit that I was somewhat nervous about holding this guy, but I figured in for a penny, in for a pound. And I had to think that if this was dangerous in any way, it wouldn't be part of the program. It's not as if they were offering you the opportunity to feed the full-grown gators and crocs. Now THAT would have been scary! Did I mention that Gatorama's slogan is "Fast Hand or No Hands"???
Now that I've had a bit of distance from my Gatorama experience, I realize that there are tons of questions that I failed to ask. What happens to all those adorable little gators when they've grown up? (I actually know from the website that that this is a "working" farm, and the gators are harvested for their skins and their meat. There are gator recipes online if you're feeling adventurous, and you can buy gator meat in the Gatorama gift shop. I'd like to talk to them about the business, though.) How do they determine the gender of the gator once they've grown up? Can they distinguish one gator from another? Where do the other animals come from that round out the Gatorama experience? I'm not too worried about not asking these questions on this visit, though, since I know that I will be returning to Gatorama next year for another hatching. That was one experience that deserves to be relived.
If you're interested in exploring Gatorama, go to http://www.gatorama.com/default.asp. It's a quick hour's drive from Punta Gorda. This year's hatching festival ends on August 27th, but there's always next year. Maybe I'll see you there!