MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Over the last six weeks, we’ve featured some of Alabama’s most beautiful and scenic trails. From the mountains of Cheaha to the waterfalls of Chewacla, every episode has really focused on nature’s beauty.
This week, we wanted to go in a different direction and talk about some of Alabama’s wild animals.
So, we high-tailed it down to Summerdale, Alabama, to check out Alligator Alley, an interactive animal sanctuary that is decades in the making.
“Alligator Alley was started on property that’s been in my family since 1939,” said Wes Moore, the property’s owner and founder of Alligator Alley. “My grandfather, he graduated from Auburn in 1937 - War Eagle - and he moved back to Baldwin County and started buying this particular piece of property. He got a big alligator in the late 60s; all through the 70s it grew and the 80s, so when we were kids we used to come and feed PawPaw’s big alligator.”
The park strives to give visitors an intimate experience with the animals, both in their natural habitat, and up close and personal, which is something Moore is extremely passionate about.
“To be able to do what I do and enhance this sort of gem in Baldwin County, it’s just cool,” he said. “And I get to hang out with alligators, which is even cooler.”
Alligator Alley is home to more than 200 gators, all of which have been rescued.
“The alligators we get are nuisance alligators. They are alligators that were going to be put down. They had no where else to go, so we’re different than most other alligator farms. We’re an alligator sanctuary. These guys and girls get to live out their days doing what alligators do, which, if you look around, isn’t a lot.”
However, what the gators do enjoy is feeding time.
“But they like to eat. And that’s how we exhibit,” said Moore. “I can talk to people all day long about figures and facts and statistics. Nobody remembers. But when you take that pig leg and you throw it in that mouth, and that alligator snaps it like a toothpick, it resonates. People remember that,” Moore said.
In addition to alligators, Alligator Alley also offers a wide variety of snakes, including a false cobra.
Although he enjoys spending time with the animals, Moore's favorite part is welcoming in the guests, even during a pandemic.
“I like interacting with people. [Saturday] we’ve had about four different countries here, we’ve had folks from all over the United States wearing masks,” said Moore. “Even through this whole pandemic, people are still traveling, people are still getting out and about.”
And that’s the ultimate goal of Alligator Alley; to help folks learn more about these ancient creatures. It’s something Moore continues to do, himself.
“I tell people ‘Look, I’m not an alligator expert.’ Now, do I know a lot? Yes. But, I’m still learning every day. I mean its just cool. I just can’t really describe it, it’s just cool.”
So if you want to hold your own alligator, head down to Summerdale and check out Alligator Alley. The park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with live alligator feedings at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
It costs $13 for adults, and $11 for children aged 3-12 and seniors 65 and up.