Alligator might say goodbye, if it could | Environment
NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - The largest alligator in America, outside Florida, is about to leave the Newport Aquarium after several months.
But don't expect crocodile tears from the giant reptile, even if he knows his next stop is Michigan.
800-pound, 14-foot long "Mighty Mike" will only be on display at Newport Aquarium through the weekend of May 22. Then the biologists from the Aquarium will transport him to his next home at a Michigan zoo.
Mighty Mike is considered the largest alligator in the country on display outside of the state of Florida. He was on temporary loan to the Aquarium from a private collection in Florida.
"We think Mighty Mike enjoyed his stay at the Newport Aquarium almost as much as our guests enjoyed seeing him here," said Ric Urban, curator of birds and mammals at Newport Aquarium. "Feedback and reaction we received were overwhelmingly positive. People really took the time to stand in the exhibit and marvel at what a beautiful creature he is."
With the departure of Mighty Mike, the Gator Bayou gallery will again host the six two-year-old American alligators that were added to the Aquarium in 2010. They were ousted when Mighty Mike began his temporary tenure. The smaller exhibit area adjacent to Gator Bayou that displayed baby alligators during Mighty Mike's stay will also return to hosting the rehabilitated Eastern Screech Owl.
Over the past several years, Mighty Mike has toured the country with his keeper and Florida-based reptile expert Bruce Shwedick, spreading the word for crocodilian conservation.
The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), one of 23 species of crocodiles known in the world, was close to extinction almost 40 years ago. In fact, they were among the first animals listed in the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, the first federal animal conservation law of its kind. Conservation laws and research saved the American alligator and now they are managed as a valuable resource.
American alligators are found in every coastal southeastern state from North Carolina to Texas, with a few along rivers in Arkansas and Oklahoma as well.
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