How about those gators?

They’re doing well, with a little help.

The largest reptile in America was nearly extinct by the 1970s.

But, efforts to protect the American alligator resulted in a conservation success story that led to its removal from the endangered species list in 1987.

The Texas State Aquarium uses that story of conservation and action resulting in big impacts to educate people visiting baby alligators.


“Alligators are the flagship of conservation in North America,” said Jesse Gilbert, vice president and chief operating officer of the aquarium. “They were on the endangered species list. When we can take an alligator out and tell that story it helps us get the message across.”

Alligator populations in Louisiana are doing well and are stable or rising based on annual nesting surveys, which shows about 1.5 million wild alligators, said Ruth Elsey, biologist manager for the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge.

During peak years, alligators have an economic impact of $60 million in Louisiana based on harvesting for hides and meat, which is part of the sustained use harvest program.

Annually, the commercial harvest is 300,000-500,000 eggs and 33,000-35,000 wild alligators.

Alligators are ideal for aquarium education purposes because their ability to function in the wild isn’t affected by time in captivity.

“Reptiles are one of those animals that always go back to their animal instinct,” Gilbert said. “Reptiles are machines. Whatever they are programmed to do, that is what they will do for life.”

More recently, alligators have persevered through Hurricane Ike and the drought. These guys have been around for millions of years, so I root for them to stay around a little longer. Not in my backyard, of course – this is why I live in the urban core – but in the marshes and rivers where they belong. Long may they live there.

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One Response to How about those gators?

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Good story. I enjoyed a fairly recent visit to Brazos Bend State Park, where I saw several alligators, in their natural habitat.

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