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Let's Say We Go to Gatorland

You can well imagine what the first thing I put in my tote bag before leaving this morning for Gatorland can't you? Clever readers will immediately know that my fresh batteries went into my bag even before my cameras.

It is common knowledge that I love to go to Gatorland. Low key, free parking, and even better, discounts! Yesterday morning, while visiting Ace Hardware for a pool supply (a long story), I ran into my sister-in-law's sister, Margie. Margie and I share a great fondness for Gatorland; during our conversation she reminded me that this month is $9.99 for Florida residents. Heck, it cost more than that to go to the movies! What was stopping me? Arriving this morning, I discovered that I qualified for two discounts---over 55 was the same price as Florida residents--- I told the nice young man at the ticket window, take your pick.

Driving there the words from the Art Biz coach ran through my head--marketing 60% or more, creating the rest. Well, just this once???

A Gator picture I took at Gatorland a few years ago when we took the "kids" there around Christmas time has been quite the seller for me. Yeah, it is wildly popular! Only this last weekend an 11x14 print made it's way to England. So, there's that. Plus, my last visit was for my birthday, nearly nine months ago, so I needed a Gatorland fix, and knowing that rain would be falling later in the day, I took off after my bike ride this morning.

Mostly I'm going to show you some photographs taken there today, and once you've seen them, you, too, will love Gatorland!

Let's start with this peacock who must be molting because he sure is missing some tail feathers!
If you've never been to this fantastic old Florida attraction, you might not know that there are a ton of birds living there. Now you do.
Woo hoo! A white peacock, although he never once showed me anything more than this. There are macaws, parrots, and loads of shorebirds. While visiting the barnyard area I chatted with the young man selling feed. He was such a nice guy, having moved here from California after hearing his friend say how great it is to work at Gatorland. Nice, huh?

Apparently, the macaws like to eat ice cream cones if given the opportunity!
Aren't those claws something else? That young man was so loving up on this bull...
I was really touched by his tender nature. He mentioned that the employees move around, staying in one area for only a few hours. Later on I saw him in the budgie feeding area with a bird on his shoulder, loving it up as well.

The flamingos are awesome, although it is hard to get any really good shots because they pretty much spend all of their time skimming the water for food.
HaHa! You thought I was exaggerating about the birds I bet!! I wasn't!

This emu was something else, having both an orange eye and a blue one.
But wait, you're thinking, I thought it was called Gatorland for a reason. It is, it is-- hold your horses, I'm getting to the gators!
It seems as if the cockatoo prefers palm fronds over ice cream cones....

So, after roaming around at my leisure, the crowds being thin and all, I realized that a storm was a brewing and I wanted to stick around to see how the animals behave during one of our monster Florida rainstorms. Well, I can tell you this, they get active. The employees carried the macaws into a bird house because they apparently go a little crazy during storms. I saw one fellow with three large birds on his arms, walking into what I guess is the bird house, and let me tell you it was LOUD!
Plenty of one of the ugliest birds you'll see, the word storks, made their way to the roof tops.
Their bodies are not so different, but by golly their heads and beaks are awful!
They are nearly as ugly as the alligators! Their heads look like reptiles don't they? One thing that is kinda weird about Gatorland is that it is off a main road--Orange Blossom Trail, or 441 as some folks call it, and just on the other side of the street, life goes on like anywhere else.
When I was a girl, there was not a blessed thing out that far from Orlando, but these days things are entirely different. To get there I took Orange Avenue to Town Center Blvd. which runs through a gigantic development called Hunter's Creek. There are loads of lovely homes, and unlike our part of town, everything is relatively new. Still, it is about 15 miles from downtown, and I would not want to call that area of town home. That may have something to do with my age....

Gators Gail? Where are the gators? Coming, I promise!

The sky darkened, the birds began flying around frantically
And the rain came down in buckets! There are plenty of covered walkways, so no worries for Mrs. Camera Crazy! I was happy things cooled down to be honest with you. I was under cover by the exit to the gift shop just watching the animals. Make that the gators!
That's a big boy for you! He/she pretty much stayed just like that throughout the storm, but looking to my left I saw some folks under another cover with a scad of gators hanging around them.
I watched awhile from afar,  and finally I just had to go see what was going on. Scurrying through the uncovered areas, I made my way over, and discovered that they were feeding the gators, causing all the action. Food will do that--make that turkey hot dogs. They were kind enough to let me watch and take a few photos including one of this hungry guy.
Yikes!!! I have to admit this was very entertaining. The folks were British tourists, and no doubt this was quite a rare occurrence for them. Heck, it's a rare occurrence for a Floridian, and there are gators all over the place here! I suspect they'll have some exciting Florida tales to tell once they get home.

No visit to Gatorland these days is complete without a stop to see the "white gators", which are not really white at all.
Not to be confused with albino gators, they are actually ivory colored with blue eyes. Because they would suffer in the bright Florida sunshine, the four gators are housed in a special covered area. As you can see, this one has some of the regular "gator" coloring. Those teeth look pretty scary to me!

While talking to David this afternoon I told him some of the photographs were so life-like they gave me the shivers! In reality they have this netting, which must keep the gators from getting at the spectators, or I'm presuming it does.
After all, the park has been open now for more than 50 years, so they seem to know what they are doing! I know I sure like the place, and I bet you will too.
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