Timing is everything. If one needed even more reasons to visit South Padre Island, they are here. This summer, why not combine fun and education for the entire family? The South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary now also boasts an alligator sanctuary, where visitors of all ages can discover something new and visit 50 contained alligators.
The new home for what some consider nature’s most interesting and beautiful reptiles held a public event in May to welcome its newest residents. On May 11, the center’s new notable resident, Big Padre, arrived with the Gator Country team from Beaumont, led by Gary and Shannon Saurage. Big Padre, Lagune and the other new reptiles were presented and placed safely into their new secure habitats, meeting habitat and handling requirements from Texas Parks & Wildlife and local officials’ criteria. Precautionary measures are meant to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors.
The newly added division of an already established attraction staple gives locals and out-of-Valley visitors even more educational reasons to spend some quality time with family and friends at South Padre Island. Several months ago when the center’s director Cris Howard presented this latest idea to her board, they shared her excitement of housing rescued alligators. Not only does the Alligator Sanctuary provide a unique opportunity to visitors, but it also provides a nurtured, safe environment which can expand an alligator’s life to 80-100 years. This is wildlife conservation to the core since alligators’ lifespan in the wild is only 40-60 years.
At that sanctuary’s celebration, Saurage emphasized an important lesson for all, especially those in the Valley where we have many more alligators in the wild than one might suspect. Do not feed the alligators.