Best Friends Forever?
By Holly Houser, Ocean Reef Press Manager
The Nature Center’s newest inhabitants – Arlo and Vida the American alligators (left) and Hero the American crocodile.
Earlier this year, the Nature Center at Ocean Reef became one of the few places to house baby alligators and crocodiles together in captivity. However, just like with every nest, there comes a time when the babies grow up. In this case, once the trio reached about two feet it was time for them to be returned to the Everglades Outpost. Lucky for us, our Nature Center Naturalist, Jeanette Rivera, anticipated the departure and planned for two more alligators and one crocodile to come to the Nature Center. The new alligator babies are Arlo and Vida, and the crocodile is named Hero.
While at a glance, alligators and crocodiles may seem very similar, they are two different species entirely. In fact, the Everglades is the only place in the world where alligators and American crocodiles cohabitate. This is because the Everglades have areas of brackish water where freshwater and saltwater meet. Although crocodiles are primarily saltwater creatures and alligators primarily freshwater, both can survive in brackish water.
“Although we live near alligators at The Reef, the American crocodile is our primary resident,” explained Rivera. “The presence of both is an important educational opportunity for the kids who come through the Nature Center to see the differences between a baby crocodile and alligator first hand.” Adding, “I also enjoy observing how the two species coexist in captivity. I’m hoping they’ll become best friends!”
The Nature Center is open Thursday to Sunday from 2-5 p.m. For details, call 305- 367-2611, ext. 2473
Featured Above: Olaf has already taken a liking to his new crocodilian friends.