American Alligator - Reptile in the Rockies
The indestructible alligator has escaped from the brink of extinction twice. A giant asteroid impacted the planet 65 million years ago and devastated the global landscape. The catastrophic event eliminated 75% of the plants and animals from the earth. Mammals, birds, snakes, lizards and alligators were some of the lucky survivors.
By the late 1960s, due to merciless hunting, the alligator was at the verge of extermination once again. Miraculously, intensive conservation efforts have allowed their numbers to increase dramatically. Now alligators are a common sight in the swamps, streams, rivers, ponds and lakes of the Southeastern United States.
I photographed this gator at the most unlikely of places, a high desert valley near Mosca, Colorado. The Colorado Gators Reptile Park began as a fish farm to raise tilapia for human consumption. The first gators introduced were to dispose of the dead fish. The farm has evolved into more of a sanctuary for rescued exotic reptiles.
The park is now home to over 300 alligators with some members of the original congregation measuring 11 feet long and weighing over 500 pounds. From what I observed, despite its uncommon habitat, the resilient American Alligator appears to be surviving just fine in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.