SUMMERDALE, Ala. (WKRG) — One of the most popular summer attractions close to home is off the beaten track and is brimming with some of nature’s most fascinating, and scary creatures that you can safely see up close. Alligator Alley in Summerdale has been delighting crowds of tourists and locals since 2004.
Owner Wes Moore says Alligator Alley is home to more than 600 alligators. 200 of them are adults and the rest are offspring. All of the adult alligators are rescue gators, having been moved from another location after being deemed a nuisance.
“They are animals who were removed from the wild for a specific reason,” Moore said. “A nuisance alligator means that you were a threat to something. For instance, if you’re hanging around a public swimming area, boat launches, picnic area, you’re going to be a nuisance alligator.”
At Alligator Alley, these gators get to live out their lives in a natural habitat. They have plenty of room to roam around both in the water and out. They breed and hatch new gators every year.
“Our job here is to provide an environment where people can view alligators in a natural habitat safely and we do not intrude in their environment,” Moore said. “We give them a home where they can spend the rest of their days being an alligator without the fear of retribution.”
And to the delight of the crowds who come to see them — safely and behind a very high, secure wire fence — they are hand-fed three times a day by trained experts. The feedings are a highlight for those who visit the park. Why are people so fascinated by alligators?
“People are scared by things that could possibly eat them,” Moore said. “They want to get close, but they don’t want to get too close. “
Moore and his staff have given many of the alligators’ names, such as Chubbs, Pops, Sneaky, and Captain Crunch. While the average person wouldn’t be able to tall one alligator from the other, Moore says there are differences that give away their identities.
“It’s easy to tell size, certain characteristics, markings, shape of the head, color pattern. They may be blind in one eye or the other. They may be missing part of a foot, or tail,” Moore said.
Visitors to Alligator Alley can see alligators from viewing galleries behind fences and also from elevated viewing platforms built over the swampy water. At the end of the visit, there’s the opportunity to hold a baby alligator and to explore other reptiles such as snakes and turtles.
Moore cautions that while he and his trained staff are able to get close to the alligators, the average person should never approach a gator in the wild.
“If this was not a controlled environment and you weren’t paying attention and you were down here like, hey, I’ve been cutting the grass, I’m going to go wash my hands in that water. An alligator that size, you have zero chance of getting away,” warns Moore.
For more information on Alligator Alley, including directions, hours and pricing, click here.