(Michigan City, IN) - There are currently three alligators on display at the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City, but another has escaped the enclosure and is on a mission: to teach the public.
Julia Cole, an education curator at the lakefront zoo, has been presenting the fourth, roughly two-year-old alligator to help educate schoolchildren and the public at large about these often misunderstood creatures, as well as other reptiles the facility houses, like snakes.
Cole brought the young gator into our studios recently to "appear" on the Sound Off radio program (in addition to other residents of the zoo, including a snake).
During the program, the alligator, feeling threatened, made noises akin to a duck call. In the wild, Cole noted, the sound alerts the mother who responds by carrying her babies from the nest to a good hiding spot for protection from predators.
“She stays nearby so if something is coming like another alligator or birds or raccoons or anything coming to get the baby alligators, they would make that sound and mom would come running to defend them,” she said.
Among the other reptilian creatures on display include corn snakes, which Cole described as being not venomous yet able to squeeze their bodies in order to kill prey.
Currently, the Washington Park Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, where attendance last year purportedly exceeded 100,000 people.