Where Does the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Get Its Animals?

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is a zoological park in St. Augustine, Florida that is home to hundreds of species of animals.

The animals at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm come from a variety of different places. Like most zoos, the park mostly gets its animals from breeding programs or from other zoos.

Some of the others animals at the park were either captured in the wild or relocated after they were found abandoned or discovered in private residences.

The park hasn’t stated where it gets all of its animals from but has disclosed where it gets some of them, including the following animals:

Alligators and Crocodiles:

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is the only zoo in the world that features all 24 living crocodilian species (alligators, crocodiles, caiman and gharial) and it gets these animals from various places.

One of the park’s most famous animals was a giant, nearly 2,000 pound crocodile named Gomek that it purchased from millionaire and reptile expert Arthur Jones in 1990.

Jones had purchased Gomek from a man named George J. Craig in 1985 and kept him at his ranch in Ocala, Florida until he sold Gomek to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

Craig, who was the owner of Marineland Melanesia in Australia, had captured Gomek in the wild on the Fly River in Papa New Guinea in the 1980s.

Billboard for the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in 1990
Billboard for the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in 1990

Gomek lived at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm until his death in 1997 after which his body was preserved and put on display at the park.

In 2001, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm received a four-foot-long, 50 pound Caiman alligator, nicknamed Scajaquada Jack, that had been captured by animal control in Scajaquada Creek in Buffalo, New York.

The deputy director of the alligator park at the time, John Brueggen, said in an interview with Buffalo News in 2004 that Scajaquada Jack’s story was unfortunately quite common and that the park receives requests to take in abandoned or mistreated privately owned alligators all the time.

In 2003, the park became home to a large crocodile named Maximo who hatched from an egg collected by aborigines along an Australian river bank and was raised at the Cairn’s Crocodile Farm in Australia.

Maximo and Sydney at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida
Maximo and Sydney at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida

Many indigenous people in Australia harvest wild crocodile eggs and sell them as a way to earn a living and some have even started their own harvesting and incubation program.

Maximo and his long-time mate, Sydney, were sold to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in 2003. The pair have bred and produced numerous babies at the park since.

In 2015, the park fostered 10 Siamese crocodile hatchlings, which were born at the Detroit Zoo, and raised them until they were old enough to be sent to Cambodia and released into the wild.

In July of 2019, the park acquired a four-foot-long, 18-pound American alligator, nicknamed Chance the Snapper, that had been captured in the Humboldt Park lagoon in Chicago, Illinois. Chance was believed to be a pet that someone released illegally into the lagoon. The alligator still lives at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and is one of the its most popular residents.

Also in the summer of 2019, the park acquired a three-foot-long alligator that had been found in the kitchen of a private residence during a drug bust in Pennsylvania. The alligator was kept at the Brandywine Zoo in Wilimington for a few months before being sent to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

The park is also home to numerous rare albino alligators who have hatched from eggs legally collected and artificially incubated by Jerry Savoie, of Cutoff, La., a licensed alligator farmer who has a contract with the park to supply it with alligators.

Savoie collects the wild alligator eggs under a permit from the state of Louisiana, incubates the eggs and raises the hatchlings. Savoie reintroduces about 20 percent of the alligators he raises back into the wild to assure support of the population.

An albino alligator at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in 2020
An albino alligator at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in 2020

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm also has its own crocodile breeding program and recently hatched eight slender-snouted crocodiles, a critically endangered African species, in 2019 and a total of 17 species of baby crocodiles, including four west African Crocodylus suchus, in 2020.

Visitors to the park who want to see the alligators up close and personal can even hold a baby alligator for an additional fee.

Birds:

The Wading Bird Rookery in the park features hundreds of wild, native birds from Florida that come to roost in the trees at the rookery every spring, seeking the security of the alligator swamp underneath.

With hundreds of alligators swimming in the swamp below, the birds feel safe from tree climbing predators and can breed and raise their young in peace.

The birds found in the rookery include herons, spoonbills, egrets and wood storks. The birds are most active and abundant during their breeding season from March to June.

A parrot at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida in 2020
A parrot at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in Florida in 2020

The park also features an exhibit of exotic and African birds, such as macaws, Cape Griffon vultures, hooded vultures, West African crowned cranes and Marabou, but it is not clear how the park obtained these birds.

Sloths:

In 2019, the park acquired its first pair of two-toed sloths from Busch Gardens Tampa. The park acquired the sloths with the hope that they will help preserve the species and engage guests in conversation about species of concern in the Central and South American rain forest. The sloths have since bred and produced many baby sloths at the park.

The park also has many more species of animals in addition to the ones listed here, such as tortoises, Komodo dragons, exotic mammals, snakes and reptiles, but it is not known how the park obtained them.

Sources:
George, Allie. “Babies abound at St. Augustine Alligator Farm.” 11 July. 2016, wlrn.org/2016-07-11/babies-abound-at-st-augustine-alligator-farm
“An alligator was found in western New York.” WYRK, 16 Feb. 2022, wyrk.com/alligator-buffalo/
Tan, Sandra. “Scajaquada Jack doing fine down south.” Buffalo News, 28 June. 2004, buffalonews.com/news/scajaquada-jack-doing-fine-down-south/article_47bc874d-d0e6-57f6-99ee-5c00bd07e726.html
Winsor, Morgan. “Alligator found during drug bust at Pennsylvania home: Authorities.” ABC News, 15 Feb. 2019, abcnews.go.com/US/police-find-heroin-crack-alligator-drug-bust-pennsylvania/story?id=61097565
“Elusive gator known as ‘Chance the Snapper’ gets new home in Florida.” Associated Press, 19 July. 2019, nypost.com/2019/07/19/elusive-gator-known-as-chance-the-snapper-gets-new-home-in-florida/
Cravey, Beth Reese. “Sloth pair debuts Friday at Alligator Farm.” Florida Times-Union, 14 Aug. 2019, jacksonville.com/story/lifestyle/2019/08/14/sloth-pair-to-get-special-welcome-friday-at-st-augustine-alligator-farm/4465454007/
“17 Species of crocodile hatch at Alligator Farm.” Beaches Leader, 26 May. 2020, beachesleader.com/17-species-crocodile-hatch-alligator-farm
Murray, Bennett. “More crocs needed to save species.” Phnom Penh Post, 4 Sept. 2013,
phnompenhpost.com/post-weekend/more-crocs-needed-save-species
“Commercial harvest of saltwater crocodile Crocodylus porous eggs by Indigenous people in northern Augustralia: lessons for long-term viability and management.” Oryx, Cambridge University Press, 13 June,. 2017, cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/article/commercial-harvests-of-saltwater-crocodile-crocodylus-porosus-eggs-by-indigenous-people-in-northern-australia-lessons-for-longterm-viability-and-management/96496645C3205352D94FDD9E11E75CFA
Donnelly, Ashley. “Is it right to take wild crocodile eggs?” BBC, 12 Feb. 2016, cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/article/commercial-harvests-of-saltwater-crocodile-crocodylus-porosus-eggs-by-indigenous-people-in-northern-australia-lessons-for-longterm-viability-and-management/96496645C3205352D94FDD9E11E75CFA
Edwards, Jennifer. “Maximo gets a girlfriend.” St. Augustine Record, 1 May. 2010, staugustine.com/story/news/local/2010/05/01/maximo-gets-girlfriend/16232988007/
“Maximo celebrates 10 years at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Saturday.” Florida Times-Union, 6 Nov. 2013, jacksonville.com/story/news/2013/11/06/maximo-celebrates-10-years-st-augustine-alligator-farm-saturday/15810273007/
Gross, Bonnie. “St. Augustine Alligator Farm: Superb Bird Rookery at Historic Attraction.” Florida Rambler, floridarambler.com/northeast-florida-getaways/st-augustine-alligator-farm-bird-rookery/
“Wading Bird Rookery.” St. Augustine Alligator Farm, alligatorfarm.com/wading-bird/
Irwin, Sam. “Albino Alligators.” Market Bulletin, Nov. 93, No. 4, 25 Feb. 2010, ldaf.state.la.us/wp-content/uploads/MarketBulletin/mb2010-02-25.pdf
“Albino alligator will be housed at ZooAmerica in Hershey, Pennsylvania, through the end of 2012.” Penn Live Patriot News, 9 Sept. 2012, pennlive.com/wildaboutpa/2012/09/albino_alligator_will_be_house.html
“Maximo.” St. Augustine Alligator Farm, alligatorfarm.com/maximo/
“Full Species List.” St. Augustine Alligator Farm, alligatorfarm.com/full-species-list/

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