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Bonita & Estero Magazine

Alligator Feeding at the Everglades Wonder Gardens is an Educational Experience for Visitors

May 23, 2018 07:14PM ● By Kevin
Everglades Wonder Gardens holds a monthly educational session on the third Thursday at 3 p.m. of every month, where visitors can watch zoo keepers feed dozens of alligators. They do an alligator interactive each day at 2 p.m. Visitors use a bamboo pole and string to feed the alligators fresh fish. These interactive feeding sessions are $5.

We caught up with Everglades Wonder Gardens president and CEO Thomas Hecker to learn more.

Bonita & Estero Magazine: Tell us about the monthly alligator feeding -- when and how did it get started?

Thomas Hecker: We always had to feed them, but the feedings were more random. I wanted to have the public witness the feeding frenzy. It is now planned to happen monthly on the third Thursday at 3 p.m.

BE: Can anyone watch?

Hecker: Yes, anyone can watch, including in regular admission.

BE: We are aware of the dangers of getting alligators too comfortable with humans. How to you keep these boundaries up?

Hecker: The monthly feeding is done with educational staff, that reminds the participants about the dangers of feeding wildlife, especially alligators. A fed gator is dead gator.  Once, an alligator is habituated to humans by feeding, it loses its fear of humans and has to be euthanized by the state.

BE: What's something we can expect from these feedings?

Hecker: An educational experience provided by staff and more activity, such as splashing and thrashing in the water by the alligators.

BE: Any tips for someone that comes across an alligator in the wild?

Hecker: If you come across an alligator in the wild - no matter the size - keep a safe distance. Alligator are very quick and fast for a short distance. Respect them!

BE: What's the real difference between a crocodile and an alligator?

Hecker: Alligators are protected, thanks to the crocodile. There are more than a million alligators out in the wild of Florida and only a couple thousand crocodiles. Because they look so similar, only licensed professionals are able to hunt alligators and remove nuisance alligators. That's why nobody can accidentally kill a crocodile. One of the main difference is that crocodiles are likely to inhabit salt water and alligators freshwater, but both can be found in either habitat. Crocodiles are more tan in color and alligators are more black or dark gray.

Bonita & Estero Magazine reminds its readers that it's never OK to feed alligators, and they will be killed if they appear too used to humans.

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