Who would have thought there were alligators in Colorado? Just down the road from our Cool Sunshine RV Park is a gator farm with a story. I have to admit when I pulled in at 10:00 in the morning, I was a little suspect. It's not Disney World, African Safari or even your local zoo. It's rather fallen into disrepair.
For $10 as a senior, you too can ooh and aah over their critters. Here's the story. Originally this was a tilapia fish farm. They raised fish to sell to stores and restaurants. These big guys are obviously not fish, but African tortoises.
When you have a big fish farm, you end up with dead fish. Instead of spending a fortune to dispose of them, they purchased four alligators. Problem solved. Why are there snakes? I'll get to that in a minute. These are both rattlesnakes, kept in iffy looking glass cages.
So ..... pretty soon Fish and Game from all over the country were calling to see if they could take rescue alligators that people had dumped in the local ponds because they got too big. In no time they were taking in rescues from everywhere and now have over 300!!
Little did I know when they hand you this little cutie that they take a picture to SELL. I gave them my camera for this one. Then I felt bad and let THEM take one, which of course I had to buy, that turned out dark and terrible. This little guy was solid as a rock and much heavier than you would think.
The first thing you see in the door besides lots of tortoises hiding absolutely everywhere, is the section of really BIG snakes. These guys were over 15 feet long and gave me the shivers. Again, these are all rescues. They all got too big for people to handle and ended up here. Sadly, their enclosures are not much more than a trough full of water.
As you move through the building where they grow plants hydroponically (don't be alarmed by all the rusty hanging steel), you come upon huge vats of fish. There's a bucket of chow for you to throw at them.
As soon as you walk near, they all come over to your side because they KNOW you have food. As soon as you throw it, they erupt into an explosion of fish. Since the tilapia market has declined, they now sell most of them to Fish and Game and people who have ponds in Texas. Bass fishing is big there. The bass eat the little fish and grow big for fishermen. The big fish eat all the yucky stuff in the pond, keeping them fresh and healthy. It's a win-win!
I've no idea where this 100 pound snapping turtle came from, but he lives with the fish. Don't get too close.
Once outside, you'll find the alligator enclosures. There's lots of chain link fencing, much of which has been repaired ... sort of. Luckily I was there in the morning. They all come out of the water to warm up in the sun. Otherwise they would all be UNDER water. The tires help them get out and stay relatively clean.
The water is well water, so it stays at a reasonable temperature, even when there is snow. The American alligator isn't as big and impressive as say a crocodile, but their numbers make up for it. You can buy alligator chow to feed them, but they were mostly sleeping on this morning.
There's much more to see, including all the movie star alligators, but I've got pulled pork to cook, so I'll introduce you tomorrow. Think the Lubriderm commercial ... remember the alligator walking around? He's here, along with Elvis!! Who knew?