Last week I had the fun opportunity to take my kids to our local elementary school and enjoy a special presentation by Gatorland! Never heard of Gatorland? They are one of Florida’s oldest attractions located in Orlando and are a fantastic and educational alternative to your bigger more expensive theme parks. What do you think they have there- gators of course! But they have a lot more than just gators. Our family was gifted with passes there last year and it is the absolutely perfect place to visit-especially if you have small kids. We could easily spend a few hours there and not be exhausted from a huge visit. They have budgies you can feed, a train ride, a gator wrestling show, a gator feeding jumparoo show, white alligators, snakes, turkey, deer, a petting zoo, and a lot more! In fact usually in March/April, as well as in October I think Florida teachers get in free plus a guest!
He also brought this scorpion as well. As he presented the different animals to the children, he talked about what they eat, where they live, and even interesting facts about each one. I knew that scorpions ‘glow’ purple when put under a black light, but did you know that they don’t seriously injure people if stung? It is similar to a bee or wasp sting. I was always under the impression that if you were stung it could be dire- but not so!
Although I’m sure many of the children would have loved to touch all of the animals, the school had not gotten release forms for everyone so the kids had to be ‘hands off’. It didn’t seem to bother them though! The kids were buzzing about Chris and his friends from Gatorland for the rest of the day! Even the teachers were bragging on how it was the best day ever!
The third animal that Chris brought was a bearded dragon. I am familiar with bearded dragons as my sister in law breeds them, but most children are not. They learned about the protection of the scary-looking spikes on the dragon (not so scary at all!) as well as what they eat. Chris also put the bearded dragon on the floor so the children could see how slow and docile this animal really is.
The students had a fantastic time and learned a lot of great information! I have found that animals and hands-on presentations always make for an encaptured audience- especially with children!
The next “little” friend Mr. Chris brought out was a tiny little 6 month old baby alligator! It was really very cute- although a bit fiesty! My son, who is 4 years old, is used to seeing alligators outside since we live in Florida. But what we’ve never taught him is how many teeth they have, what baby alligators eat, or what the strongest part of their body is. As Chris was walking around showing off the small alligator to the school children my son sat there and excitedly reported everything he had just learned- right down to how many teeth that baby alligator had in its mouth!
Next out of a large black bag came this python- which Chris smartly did not walk by the kids with just in case someone was afraid of snakes. I did see some teachers shudder when the snake came out! 🙂 Not only did the students learn about what pythons eat, but they also learned about Nile Monitors as well as a discussion about not releasing your pets in the wild. He explained to the kids the danger to our ecosystem when you release pets into the wild, and how to learn about the pet you want before you decide to buy it.
And then of course, out came the larger alligator. This guy is actually smaller than most of the alligators I’ve seen around here. He was 3 years old, and as you can see for safety reasons his mouth is taped closed. The children learned about myths and facts with alligators, what to do if one is chasing you, and safety rules with alligators near by. Some of you may be wondering why safety rules around alligators, but living in Florida it is very common (at least where I am) to see alligators in the wild. In fact I went to college down here in Florida and we had several alligators living in our little lake by our cafeteria. It was very easy to come within a few feet of the alligators (which never bothered anyone by the way).
Although the students were not allowed to touch the animals- any brave teachers could touch them! Although most of the teachers were too busy monitoring their classes, Mr. I snuck back on stage and was thrilled with the opportunity to hold the alligator!
Since my children were not students of the school and my husband and I were there with them they had the opportunity to meet with Chris back on stage after the students left, and get a closer look at the animals. Now to be very honest, petting gators was nothing new for us. At Gatorland you can pet snakes and alligators. In fact, you can actually even sit on the back of a large alligator and hold the alligators head in your hands! It is really pretty cool and an experience you won’t find anywhere else! (legally anyways!)
The presentation by Gatorland (and their friends!) was great! My kids and I, as well as the school students learned a lot of new things! I recommend it to any school looking for a special presentation! And if you’re ever in the Orlando area and are looking for somewhere educational and fun to take your family it’s a great place to go! Here’s their location information for anyone who would like it:
14501 South Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, FL 32837