The largest species of reptile in North America will make its public debut at the Nature Center at Maymont on Saturday, August 2. The American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, can grow to a length of 10 to 14 feet and weigh 500 pounds or more, but Maymont’s five young reptiles won’t be quite so menacing. The new additions are one to two years old, measuring approximately eight to 30 inches long. They will live at Maymont at least one year, growing up to 12 inches in 12 months. Two alligators will be on view in a newly-renovated space in the Nature Center galleries, and the others will make appearances during environmental education programs for the public and schools. Click here for American Alligator Fun Facts.
American alligators live in freshwater habitats in the southeastern United States from North Carolina to Texas. They aren’t native to Virginia, so why are they joining Maymont’s native Virginia wildlife exhibits?
“One of our goals is to help guests understand issues that might impact Virginia ecosystems,” said Buz Bireline,Maymont Director of Habitats and the Nature Center. “American alligators are fascinating creatures, and their lives are greatly impacted by temperature. Since alligators live so close to the Commonwealth’s southern border, this exhibition will give guests opportunities to consider how climate change could expand the range of the alligator into Virginia.”
The public premier for the alligators at Maymont will be Saturday, August 2 from 10am to 5pm. In addition to a first peek at the new American alligator exhibit, guests can enjoy close encounters with the smallest, educational alligators throughout the day as well as fish and turtle feeding demonstrations at 12pm and otter training at 2:30pm. Guests can also see lined seahorses, Hippocampus erectus, a species native to the Chesapeake Bay that is also new to the Nature Center animal family. Admission to the Nature Center is $3 for adults and youth ages 13 and older; $2 for children ages 4 to 12 and seniors ages 60 and older. Admission is free for Maymont members.
Maymont is a 100-acre American estate, an extraordinary gift given to the community by James and Sallie Dooley. Whether strolling in the gardens, touring the mansion or watching river otters play, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The Robins Nature & Visitor Center is located at 2201 Shields Lake Drive in Richmond, Virginia.