Our five baby alligators are doing very well. We started exercising them in a swimming tank this week, and these pictures are from their first experience. It took them a while to realize they could put their feet down!
To visit the baby alligators, begin at the Lowcountry Center. As you exit, turn left on the sidewalk (away from the river). This leads down Magnolia Allee and straight to the Tarbox House. The building is not accessible to the public, but take a look in the windows of the front porch!
Today I installed a swim tank in the viewing window. You may only see three
alligators. Their two siblings are a little more picky with their food,
and are in a tank right beside them.
Because Brookgreen Gardens provides homes for non-releasable animals, we often get confused with a rehabilitation center. Rehab centers take in orphaned or injured animals and attempt to give them enough care to return them to the wild. When we have space for a new animal, we work with our local rehab centers to provide homes for the animals that cannot be released.
One of my zookeepers was able to rescue a baby squirrel yesterday. It was desperately treading water in our Cypress Aviary. Heather was finally able to convince the baby to grab onto a tree branch. She took the squirrel over to the bank, where the mother squirrel was waiting. The mother pried the baby off the tree limb, and carried him or her back home.
Sometimes animals need a little help. They may get tangled in a fence, or need help crossing a busy road. But many times, if we scoop up baby animals and take them home, we do not realize that the mother is just around the corner. She possibly got frightened away by you! When I worked at the Birmingham Zoo, we received a confiscated baby beaver from someone that scooped it into their canoe.
Some animals, like deer and rabbits, leave their babies alone during the day. They leave to find food and to draw predators away from the nest. They fully expect to come back and find their babies waiting at the end of the day.
This is one of the best (and funniest) bird charts that I have ever found.
You can make a nest out of almost anything, as long as it has drainage holes in the bottom. The nest can be hung with rope or cable ties if wire is not available. For locals, check out the related links on the right side of this blog. Ark Animal Hospital and The Center for Birds of Prey are great resources.
We are excited to announce the birth of four alligator hatchlings at our Lowcountry Zoo.
If you remember, our female alligator laid 48 eggs in July of 2012. The eggs were removed and incubated, but none were fertile. Zookeepers watched her nest building this year, and we removed 49 eggs on August 1, 2013.
She was not super happy with us! We cannot allow the eggs to hatch on exhibit because the male may eat them, and they could escape through the fencing. For the same reason, we can't release the hatchlings back to the exhibit.
The eggs were very carefully removed and labeled by our keeper Caleb and summer intern Dacota. We can't allow the eggs to turn, or the egg will never develop.
Back at the office, the 49 eggs were candled. The wide opaque band in the center means that the egg could be fertile. We kept and incubated 23 fertile eggs at 30.5 degrees Celsius.
We also weighed each egg. Most zoos use grams and kilograms instead of ounces and pounds.
On September 14th, we noticed chirping, and one of the eggs had a gator nose sticking out.
When they did not hatch on their own, our new zookeeper Heather helped two chirping alligators out of their shells.
The next day we assisted with another baby gator, and we hatched our fourth on the 18th.
We will be choosing one or two alligators to keep and use as animal ambassadors in our programs. They will be an occasional guest at the Meet the Animals program. The program and our two zoo tours are held daily, and they are free with garden admission. We have arranged for another zoo to take any additional hatchlings.