Family Travel 2012

Nichole Livengood

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Animal Adventure: A walk on the wild side at Alligator Adventure

Posted 10/12/2012 10:15:00 AM

Let me say that I am not a fan of alligators, but I’m up for a challenge, so my family and I embarked on a visit to Alligator Adventure on U.S. 17 at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach. We walked out a long boardwalk over a swamp to the back gate, where friendly staff assured me I would not get eaten upon entry. They were right.

Alligator Adventure is home to more than 1,000 alligators ranging from eight-inch babies to 15-foot adults. There are habitats where the young alligators crawl all over each other and lay on top of each other as they sun, and there are vast exhibits for the giant alligators who need more personal space and lurk just below the water’s surface or sun on the shore. If you want to see an alligator up close, this is the spot.

We had a fantastic time walking around checking them all out and meeting the other animals that live there as well: red ruffed lemurs, Galapagos turtles, Siberian tigers, African servals and Egyptian fruit bats. The park has exotic birds, snakes and monkeys and was more of an adventure than I could have imagined.

I held my breath as three zookeepers entered the fence to feed the Utan, the largest beast at the park. I even took my chances and watched the alligator feeding, where one of the zookeepers stood on a boardwalk over water containing more than 300 gators. When she leaned over the railing to toss them pieces of chicken, they jumped and snapped their jaws. That’s 2,000 pounds of jaw pressure popping down, enough to crush a cinderblock. I figured if they let her survive a feeding, they can’t be all that bad.

Fun Fact: An alligator can go a year or more without eating and be perfectly fine. But if you see one, don’t feed it because once an alligator is fed by a human, all humans are a food source and that can become dangerous for your family and your family pets.

The park is definitely fun for the entire family. From the monkeys and porcupines to the turtles and tigers, you are guaranteed to see an animal up close you’ve never seen before. And if you’re lucky, you’ll learn a thing or two about alligators. I came away with a better understanding of these critters that have terrified me since I was little.

Admission to Alligator Adventure is $18.99 for adults; $16.99 for seniors; and $12.99 for children ages 4-12. Children 3 and younger get in free. When you purchase your ticket, you can get a second day pass for free, if you return within 7 days of your initial visit. For more information or current park hours call (843) 361-0789 or click here.