Adopt a gator: Gatorland launches all-new program with first rescue gator

New initiative supports Gatorland Global

ORLANDO, Fla. – Have you ever wanted to say you adopted an alligator while also making a difference? Now is your time all thanks to an all-new initiative at Gatorland.

The theme park recently launched its new alligator adoption program. The new initiative is just a small piece of the much larger mission, the Gatorland Global rescue program.

Gatorland Global was established in 2018 with a mission to protect, conserve and educate while supporting crocodilian research and conservation projects. The theme park uses its vlogs on YouTube to highlight the work being done, as well as raise funds to further its mission in Central Florida and around the world.

Alligators at Gatorland (McReynolds)

“We work with conservation programs and crocodilians around the world. India, Cuba, Jamaica and Australia,” said Mark McHugh, President and CEO of Gatorland.

In Gatorland’s most recent vlog, Gatorland ambassador Savannah Boan took viewers to Jamaica to view conservation work underway to help crocodiles.

Take a look at the most recent vlog below.

Just last month, Gatorland welcomed its first rescue alligator of the year as part of its conservation program.

The 11-foot long male alligator was living near Fellsmere, an area just west of Sebastian, on the Indian River near a boat ramp.

Gatorland said people were illegally feeding him, causing him to lose his natural fear of humans and create a very dangerous situation. To avoid any future conflict with humans, Gatorland worked with a trapper to bring him to the “Alligator Capital of the World.”

Gatorland Global Rescue Gator 2021 (Gatorland)

“Our team cleaned him up and released him into our 8-acre Alligator Breeding Marsh with 130 other gators, plus birds, turtles and fish,” McHugh described. “Let’s face it, Gatorland is Alligator Paradise and this lucky gator just won the lotto.”

Today, the new alligator is adjusting to his new surroundings and enjoying the calm waters.

Dozens of nuisance alligators destined to be euthanized have been rescued by Gatorland. Some of those rescued even have unique names including Turnpike -- an Alligator rescued on Florida’s Turnpike -- Bogey --rescued on a golf course -- and Larry, the alligator that was rescued from the Villages in 2019.

Alligators at Gatorland (McReynolds)

To expand on the Gatorland Global rescue program, officials have added an alligator adoption opportunity, with this recent alligator becoming the first.

Right now, anyone from the public is asked to post on the Gatorland Facebook or YouTube page to say if they’re interested. The park will soon draw a name from all those who posted with an interest to adopt him.

The winner will get to name the alligator, an appropriate family-friendly name, and receive an adoption certificate and free passes to come visit him.

Officials said the winner will need to provide an adoption donation of $500 that will go to fund alligator rescue and conservation work through Gatorland Global.

No word on when the person will be announced by the park.

Originally opened as a roadside attraction in 1949, the park is celebrating 72 years and is home to more than 2,000 alligators.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, female alligators begin to build their nests in the months of June and early July. Eggs will begin to hatch between mid-August through early September.

Right now, guests can see dozens of small alligators in the baby gator marsh area of the park.

New baby crocodile at Gatorland (McReynolds)

Gatorland is also currently in the running to be the best theme park in Orlando by readers of the Orlando Weekly. The theme park is going up against Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando.

Voting is underway until Aug. 25 and can be found here.

If you would like to visit Gatorland, the theme park is currently offering 50% off tickets for Floridians through the month of July.

Active and retired military receive free single-day admission at Gatorland year-round.

Click here to learn more about the theme park, Gatorland Global and much more.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.