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Maus
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Anyone from Florida have any experience with zoos, etc. where DD11 could pet/hold an alligator? There seem to be a lot of such places when I google it. Most seem quite expensive. She isn't a large-group person with her ASD and ADHD, so we're hoping for something low-key. We aren't from Florida, so we aren't familiar with the cities there.

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19 minutes ago, Maus said:

Anyone from Florida have any experience with zoos, etc. where DD11 could pet/hold an alligator? There seem to be a lot of such places when I google it. Most seem quite expensive. She isn't a large-group person with her ASD and ADHD, so we're hoping for something low-key. We aren't from Florida, so we aren't familiar with the cities there.

Black Hammock is a little out of the way place with a restaurant, store, and bar that has alligators you can hold, for a small fee. I want to say it was a couple dollars when we did it several years ago. It wasn't a busy place when we went. https://www.theblackhammock.com/black-hammock-restaurant/index

Otherwise maybe Gatorland? It's not as big or crazy or loud as a normal theme park...there is a quiet area that is a bird roockery, but then they have gator feeding and you can pose with a gator. But the posing is in the middle of a pen/arena thing where others can see you if that is an issue. At the end of the show they have people that want a photo op line up to do it, one at a time. It's more sitting on an alligator though - jaws are taped. 

You can feed a tortoise though and I LOVED that. There is also an aviary where you can feed birds. I really like Gatorland, but it is too boring for some people - that might make it better for her though? More a half day place, you know? https://www.gatorland.com/?_vsrefdom=cmgd&gclid=Cj0KCQjwk4yGBhDQARIsACGfAevFA5ieUKPeNtkQHAY5hYgFI711ITaxGM0r9B5RezdisS5Vr6O9EKsaAjcwEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

edited to add - this is the package you would want for her - with the alligator meet and greet - and then just regular admission for you guys, plus or minus train ride. https://www.gatorland.com/specials/grunt-package/

Edited by ktgrok
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We went to Gatorama a couple years ago and enjoyed it. I didn't realize how expensive it was because somebody else treated us to it - I think we did general admission plus the "Catch a Baby Gator" add-on, which would add up to $30/person. It wasn't super busy the day we went but I imagine it varies based on season, time of day, etc. They had a little goat enclosure and we happened to witness a mama goat passing the placenta after giving birth, which was grossneat 😛 The (goat) kids were cute. We had just missed seeing them come out.

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My dd held a small alligator at a mini golf place somewhere in the Tampa area. So more low key and less expensive than theme park kind of place but also probably a less exciting experience. She liked it though and they let her hold it quite a while.

I suppose this kind of setup might be a problem for animal folks who feel like these animals should be in more of a zoo or sanctuary type place and they are probably right. But it wasn’t something we thought too deeply about. Just editing to add that because someone will likely call me out on it. 

Edited by teachermom2834
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14 minutes ago, Joker2 said:

The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine. I know they did this sort of thing when we lived there, and it wasn’t as busy as regular zoos or theme parks either. 

Oh that's a good idea. 

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Wow! Thanks! Both Gatorland and the Alligator Farm look like the low-key kind of places that would work. 

St. Augustine also has a National Park, I think, for the oldest settlement. And the ocean.

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Fwiw, my ds with asd has enough anxiety that he wants nothing to do with disney characters and nothing to do with alligators. When we were in Fort Myers this winter we did a mini golf place that had alligators you could feed from one of the holes. It was fun and just enough. 

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1 hour ago, Seasider too said:

Black Hammock made me nervous! I was there with three young kids and the place was crawling with gators. 
 

I second a place like Alligator Farm in St Augustine. It is AZA accredited so should have a standard of safety that not all gator attractions may offer. 

Oh, didn't know that. AZA accredited means better care for the animals as well. 

1 hour ago, Maus said:

Wow! Thanks! Both Gatorland and the Alligator Farm look like the low-key kind of places that would work. 

St. Augustine also has a National Park, I think, for the oldest settlement. And the ocean.

FYI, if it is hot, there is a lot of shade at Gatorland..a LOT...but not much in the way of indoors/air conditioning. So be prepared for heat. The restaurant has outdoor, covered seating and I think maybe fans. But it is more like a snack bar type thing where you walk up, get your food, go si down outside wherever you want. They have a menu on their website that even lists what is gluten free, which surprised me. (not much..but some)

We liked to take the train to cool off - the breeze as you are moving helps and it is covered as well. 

I love the aviary, but did get bird poop on me, lol. So be warned. 

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