Orlando’s Gatorland Promises Its Critters Won’t Get Free During Irma

(The Washington Post) -

So here’s one less thing to worry about:

The people who run Gatorland in Orlando, Florida, have promised that their thousands of alligators and crocodiles – not to mention their venomous snakes and boa constrictors – will not be making a great escape during Hurricane Irma.

Protecting the people of Orlando from any reptile-related mayhem, Gatorland officials told their social media followers, are decades of experience and eight-foot fences.

“We’ve been fighting hurricanes and big nasty storms since 1949 here at Gatorland,” said park president Mark McHugh, speaking directly to the camera as he crouched next to a dozen or so sunning gators. “It ain’t our first rodeo.”

The snakes and other animals are secured via procedures prescribed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. They’re placed in locked cages, boxes or bags, which are placed in locked buildings. McHugh called the measures “doubly, triply safe. None of our animals are getting out.”

The alligators and crocodiles, meanwhile, will stay in their ponds and lakes.

“These critters have been fighting hurricanes and big old nasty storms ….and they’re quite good at it,” he said. “We just leave all our alligators in our ponds and our lakes. They’re on their own. They just take a deep breath and sink in the water and they weather this thing out.”

Those ponds and lakes are protected by 8-foot fences. Another 8-foot fence surrounds the entire 110-acre park.

As an added measure, he said, a “small team of animal experts,” will be riding out the storm in Gatorland, “monitoring everything, keeping an eye out.”

“None of our animals are going anywhere here at Gatorland, so if you see an alligator floating down your street there at your house, it ain’t ours, don’t call us,” McHugh said.

Gatorland is just one of Florida’s unique, kitschy or just downright bizarre attractions that try to lure tourists away from the glitzier theme parks.

For 10 bucks, the park will let you wrestle a nine-foot alligator. Photos cost extra.