La Feria News

Alligator Park Opens on South Padre Island

Joe and Melizza Atkinson lure Big Padre. Photo: Tony Vindell/LFN

by Tony Vindell/LFN

A brand new attraction has opened on South Padre but this one is not on the sand by the sea.

It’s an alligator park at the SPI Birding Nature Center and Alligator Sanctuary on South Padre Boulevard.

Sixty-two reptilians, including a 12.7 foot monster were brought here from another park in Beaumont and are now part of the facility that also has frequent visits from wild gators.

The resident animals are in a quarter of an acre area designed to keep them inside.

Two adult gators, named Big Padre and Lady Laguna, are in their own pond while 50 smaller ones are in a separate area.

Joe and Melizza Atkinson, the alligator handlers, said Big Padre is a 50 year old male that was rescued years ago.

“The gators you see here came from another park,” he said. “We are using them to educate the public about these wonderful animals that need their places in this world.”

He said the center has three shows a day, with one each at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Although some people might say having gators here might be counterproductive as the hurricane season began June 1, Atkinson said they have a contingency plan to evacuate all of the gators if needed.

The alligators are fed food donated by a meat market in Port Isabel but the Atkinsons said they take any kind of meat from area hunters whether it be deer, wild hogs or other animals.

“We will also take any old meat stored in a freezer,” Melizza said, “instead of throwing it away.”

Several people interviewed at the center said they wanted to see the alligators because they had never seen them in real life.

Admission to the center is $5 for children, ages 4 to 11, $7 for students ages 13 to 18 and senior citizens 55 years and above and $8 for adults.

The center opens from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

For more information please call 956-761-6801.

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