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Archive for Monday, May 14, 2007

Great Bend alligators come out for spring

May 14, 2007

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— If they weren't cold-blooded reptiles with a brain capacity much smaller than the dinosaurs, Brit Spaugh Zoo's alligators might have looked forward to coming home to their outdoor ponds after a winter of indoor confinement, but Public Lands Director Mike Cargill explained they just don't work that way.

Not that they won't enjoy the warming weather, basking in the sun, and the exercise of getting in and out of the water, because it appears they do thrive in the environment.

It's just that the mammals who spend a great deal of time watching the gators - people - are probably more anticipatory.

Cargill said he's was asked for weeks when exactly will the alligators return.

For the first four of eight adults, the answer was earlier this month.

And, as far as the humans are concerned, the answer of who will be on hand to watch them return is everyone who's a member of the Great Bend Zoological Society.

Cargill said the recent event to release the gators was a promotion for zoo memberships.

All of the funds raised through memberships go to the purchase of additional animals for the zoo.

The alligators have wintered in a cool building near the airport. They have not fed since before they were moved last fall. During that time, Cargill explained, they move very little and live off fat stored in their tails.

In fact they cannot be fed during the cold temperatures. Because their metabolism is set by external heat sources, any food they would take in while it is cool would just rot in their stomachs and poison them.

They won't be fed again until warm weather returns.

The alligators are not strangers to cool temperatures.

They were raised at Colorado Gators, a unique facility near Alamosa, Colo.

The Rocky Mountain gator farm began as a fish farm, where water heated naturally by geothermal activity allowed an African species of fish to be raised for sale.

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