I visited the St. Augustine Alligator Farm for its well deserved reputation of having a lovely rookery for native birds who fly in to build nests, and are approachable to photograph. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the rest of the zoological park.
When I first got to the park, a keeper was in the pit standing right next to this alligator called Mad Max. Max has an eye infection and the keeper was discussing his condition with the medical staff who were standing on the bridge in the background. Max was sleeping and the keeper tried to get his attention by calling his name and smacking him on the snoot with his hand! This image was later in the day after Max got some medicine.
I’ve seen lots and lots of gators in Florida and walked near them—and kept an eye out for them—while photographing birds. Yet, I was not prepared for the concentration of gators here.
Perhaps you’d like this job of feeding a rat to a gator.
The keeper below, who was the one who smacked Max on the snout earlier, is very comfortable walking around the pit and talking to the gators who respond when he names them. The trainee in the background looks less comfortable!
The zoo has a remarkable collection of crocodilians from all over the world. In addition to the native birds that fly in and out, there are some captives as well. These two from Africa were in nice light when I visited.
If you visit the beautiful city of St. Augustine, I recommend a relaxing visit to the Alligator Farm.