Florida exploring


 Sharing another only-in-Florida adventure with OUR WORLD TUESDAY.  Thank you to the host team.




 When DisneyWorld opened in 1971, it changed the scene for Florida tourist attractions.  Before Mickey Mouse,  there were  many mom-and-pop roadside attractions, all trying to capitalize on exotic Florida nature.   After Mickey and all that came along with him, most of these attractions fell into disrepair.  Some of them, like the mermaids at Weeki Watchee Springs,  which we visited last year, have been bought and restored by the State and are now operated as State Parks.    



Last week we visited an original Southwest Florida roadside attraction that has survived pretty much as it was when it opened in 1957.  This is GATORAMA in Palmdale.    It is still owned and operated by the same family that started it back then.



There's nothing fancy about Gatorama; it did feel as if we were back in another era.   You walk down a long elevated walkway with a tin roof overhead and on either side are alligators and crocodiles swimming free,  tortoises and turtles (apparently unafraid of their neighbors), a few exotic birds in cages, and quite a few wild birds dropping by here and there.  

There were also many juvenile alligators in pens.


 (The pens were spacious -- we were told that this behavior -- called podding -- is normal for juvenile alligators).


Gatorama  advertises itself as an Alligator and Crocodile adventure, but it is also an alligator farm.  Alligators are raised for meat and leather.    And that of course  is one reason why the attraction has survived.    Diversification is the name of the game!


This young woman was cleaning one of the alligator pens.  First she had to herd the gators into another pen.  Take a closer look at her feet. 

We didn't stay for the show -- which included alligator wrestling and a chance for kids to touch an alligator (with its snout taped).  It was enough for us to see the animals -- and an almost barefoot alligator herder (ironically, she was actually wearing Crocs).





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