The Alligator Farm
The St Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park located in St. Augustine, Florida is a wonderful in the Spring of each year. The rookery at the Alligator Farm is the a popular nesting place for shore birds. The wild shorebirds of all types gather at the Alligator Farm. They gather to build nests, lay eggs, and nurture their young in the trees throughout the rookery. All under the watchful eyes of the opportunistic alligators below. This annual ritual plays out up close and personal for the thousands of folks who visit the park during this nesting period.
This time is also a bird photographer’s dream! The activity is furious and non-stop as birds bring in items to build nests, while other birds are laying eggs or building nests. The scene is quite spectacular because of the closeness one can get to nesting birds. An elevated boardwalk traverses through the rookery within an arms length of nesting birds and above hundreds of alligators in the water below.
From January through early March shore birds arrive at the rookery. From late March through May is the best time to view birds laying eggs and attending to young hatchlings. In early June the activity starts to wind down, though nesting will continue into August.
The rookery visitors include great egrets, roseate spoonbills, wood storks, tri-colored herons, snowy egrets, great blue herons, just to name a few.
Alligator Farm History
The park began in 1893 on St. Augustine Beach as a minor attraction at the end of a railway running through neighboring Anastasia Island. The alligators were added at first to get visitors to buy souvenirs and see the museum there. Soon the reptiles themselves became the main point of interest.
Growing in popularity, the park moved to its current location in the early 1920s. The park changed owners in the 1930s, and after a devastating fire they started reconstruction and expansion of the facilities. In 1993, for their 100-year anniversary, the park became the first place in the world to display every species of crocodilian.
As of 2012, this was the only place where one can see every species of alligator, crocodile, caiman and gharial. In 2008 the zoo opened a new Komodo dragon facility that also exhibits lizards and snakes found within the range of the saltwater crocodile.
On September 10, 1992, the Alligator Farm was designated a U.S. Historic District. As such, it was referred to as the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Historic District. According to the National Register of Historic Places, it covers less than 1 acre (4,000 m2).