One of the most common questions we get asked is where our animals come from. Do we trap or buy them? Are they rescues? We have a lot of concerned folks who want to make sure we acquire the animals in a respectable manner and treat them humanely. We assure you this is done.
But in order to ease the many minds out there, we wanted to share some of what’s done for our animal as well as some information about how our animals come to us.
The Life of Alligator Attractions’ Animals
Unfortunately, there are animal businesses that don’t treat their animals humanely. Sadly, that’s the reality of the world that we live in. However, public opinion and investigations go a long way toward preventing these operations from continuing. People are more aware and quick to report on animal abuse these days.
Even on a zoo level, the trend is leaning more toward establishing natural habitats and conservancy than using animals for entertainment. While we are not a zoo (yet), we consider ourselves stewards of the environment. Our animals are not here to entertain. They are here because their lives were in jeopardy.
We go through a protocol when bringing new animals on board to make sure they receive the medical treatment they require and are cared for according to their species’ needs. We are knowledgeable about what makes them thrive and we ensure they receive it.
Before we go into the specifics of what we do for animals we wanted to highlight a process.
All of our animals:
- Visit a vet for initial health screenings and inoculations
- Receive the attention (or inattention) they need to thrive in a new environment
- Receive periodic health and behavior assessments to ensure they are thriving
Providing the Specifics the Animals Need
Each animal we take in is brought to an exotic animal or farm animal vet (depending on the animal) for an initial health check. We acquire our animals from a variety of sources. Many of our alligators, for instance, were being raised on what’s known in the industry as “skin farms.” The skin farms raise the alligators to a certain size and then use them in product and/or food production. None of our gators were kidnapped from the wild.
If we were to ever take one from the wild, it would be because it was ill or in need of rescue or it was given to us by an organization that thought we could help.
Our mammals are given their immunizations to ensure they will not succumb to preventable diseases or illnesses. Sometimes we receive animals in very poor health. For them, that means multiple check-ups will be needed. Our staff strictly follows veterinarian instructions to ensure the health of the animal. This can include spoon- or bottle-feeding every two hours or some activity that requires round-the-clock care. But we believe in conservation. Much of what we do is guided around the desire to see the animals thrive even if they can’t do so in the wild.
Brutus and Barley: Two Stories of Survival
Some species require specific approaches to cut down on their stress in a new environment. For instance, sloths tend not to be overly interested in communal living. They are not herd animals. When we brought on Sid we kept him away from the crowds until he became acclimated to his environment and trusted his caregivers. Even today, after becoming accustomed to his safe environment, we still limit his exposure to crowds. We don’t want him to become overwhelmed and show signs of trauma. This is extremely important and part of our caregiving mission.
When we adopted our pigs Brutus and Barley they were both in dire need of help. Barley was traumatized and extremely underweight for a 3-month-old piglet. When you bring on an abused or traumatized animal the first thing you have to establish is trust. This can be a very difficult process because the animal assumes you will mistreat it as it’s been mistreated.
It took two weeks for Barley to allow himself to be touched, and even then, he appeared frightened and hesitant. The staff here takes its cues from the animals. They do not force interaction but look to build trust first with the staff and later with others.
Over that next year, Barley learned to trust us and now gets excited when he sees us. He enjoys interacting with our staff and visitors and can be quite the showman.
Poor Brutus was severely underweight. In his previous home, he was brutalized by other pigs. With pigs, often runts–or the smallest of the litter–are cast aside. It is not uncommon for the runt’s brothers and sisters to bite them, trample on them, or simply keep food away from them making it hard to thrive. In some situations, the mother herself bites the little piglet. When we took on Brutus he had pig bite marks all over his body. He also had a bacterial infection and was having seizures.
The first week we had him we weren’t sure he would make it. It was touch and go and a lot of sleepless nights. The veterinarian couldn’t give us any assurances that he would survive. It wasn’t until we had him for about two months that we started to see improvement.
The Mission of Alligator Attraction
Ours is a labor of love here at Alligator Attraction. We strive to provide the best environment for these animals. Some of them have had shockingly bad lives before coming here. We give them a place to thrive and become less medically fragile. Our staff has tried to create pleasing environments for them to decrease the stress they may have been under from their previous living arrangements.
At the same time, these animals help us carry out our mission of conservation and education so that the next generation can understand the value and responsibilities they’re charged with in protecting the many species on this Earth.
If you’d like to help us with our mission, won’t you please consider adopting one of our animals? We thank you for the many inquiries about the lives of our animals. The concerns the public has about the treatment of animals has helped so many. We applaud your efforts and hope that you will join us in ours.