SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Soon dozens of creatures equipped with robust, needle-like teeth, webbed feet and powerful tails will call the Island their new home.
The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center will celebrate the grand opening of its new alligator sanctuary Saturday, May 11, starting at 9 a.m.
Big Padre, a 50-year-old, 12-foot, 700-pound alligator will be released into his own private pond sanctuary.
About 50 juvenile alligators will also be released into another enclosure.
Visitors will be able to listen to gator talk presentations and will be able to view the alligators in their enclosures.
Admission for adults is $8, seniors will be charged $6 and the cost for children admission is $5.
A $10 adventure package will be offered, which includes a picture with a non venomous snake and a wade with juvenile alligators.
The birding and nature center’s new alligators will be provided by Gator Country, a sanctuary in Beaumont for rescued nuisance alligators and other reptiles.
As the SPI Birding and Nature Center’s 2-foot juvenile alligators age and grow larger, they will be interchanged with younger ones.
According to SPI Birding and Nature Center Naturalist Educator Javier Gonzalez, alligators have grown in population in the area.
“We’re trying to educate the public more about them because there is a need now that there are more of them around,” Gonzalez explained. “That’s our main goal.”
Gonzalez said Gator Country’s alligators have been rescued from nuisance situations.
“They were either being fed illegally because when people feed alligators they lose their fear of people and can become dangerous,” Gonzalez explained. “Or, they were in people’s backyards and places they shouldn’t be due to safety reasons.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT — Alligator sanctuary grand opening
WHEN — May 11 starting at 9 a.m.
WHERE — South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, 6801 Padre Boulevard
ADMISSION — Adults $8, seniors $6 and children $5
ADVENTURE PACKAGE — $10 picture with a non venomous snake and wade with juvenile gators