Alligator parks in Florida have prepared their animals for Hurricane Ian—one of the worst storms the state has ever seen.
Hurricane Ian made landfall on September 28. Officials predicted the storm would be category 4, with winds reaching between 130 to 156 miles per hour. Now it has hit, the strong winds are bordering Category 5 level. Such storms can cause catastrophic damage. Few category 5 storms have made landfall in US history.
Severe weather conditions can cause wildlife to become displaced due to flooding and disorientation. Gatorland in Orlando is home to over 2,000 alligators and has a plan in place to prevent this from happening.
In a video posted to Facebook, a Gatorland keeper said the park has “a very detailed hurricane preparation procedure,” in order to keep their animals safe.
All the land mammals living at the park have been put inside.
“Alligators have been around for 75 million years, it ain’t their first rodeo with nasty storms,” the keeper said. “They actually feel that barometric pressure changing, go get in the water, they go down sit underwater, they’ve learned to ride out big storms by just sitting on the bottom of the pond. [They] come up with their nostrils and take a little breath every now and then. So don’t worry about it, all our animals are going to be safe.”
Gatorland staff will be on-site during the hurricane to ensure the animals remain safe.
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, which is the only park in the world housing all 24 crocodilian species, has also undertaken hurricane preparations.
“Through the wind and rain, we collected the birds, mammals, venomous snakes, giant pythons, and little turtles and tortoises to be safely secured for the hurricane,” the park said in an update posted to Facebook. “The alligators and crocodiles will remain in their pools and we’ve lowered the water levels to account for the additional water that Hurricane Ian will drop. The stork and cranes are set up in the guest bathrooms with water and perching.”
A video posted to TikTok outlined what the plans are for Maximo and Sydney—two of the park’s resident saltwater crocodiles.
“Their comfort doesn’t change much, they get to stay right where they normally are. This pool has been through much worse than Hurricane Ian will be when it gets here. They will do their thing. […] They will be here guaranteed right where they belong on Friday morning.”
Another video posted to TikTok showed the park staff prepping the birds at the park in the guest bathrooms.
“This is a nice secure building,” a keeper can be heard saying in the video. “We are locking the stork up in the bathroom because it’s secure and we don’t have to put him in a crate which would make him more uncomfortable. […] He’s done this before in a few storms so far.”