Colorado Gators Reptile Park: More Than Just Gators!
By Gillian Sheehan
Have you been to the Colorado Gators Reptiles Park in Mosca? About 180 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, or 17 miles north of Alamosa, this little park is not quite what you’d expect to find in the middle of the San Luis Valley.
At the beginning of July, my parents were visiting from Canada. Naturally, my husband and I took them sand sledding in the Great Sand Dunes National Park…we’ll save that story for another blog post! While in that neck of the woods, we came across big red letters spelling out “COLORADO GATORS” on the Colorado State Highway 17 and decided it was worth checking out.
We didn’t quite know what to expect – hand-painted signs and unassuming facilities had us thinking that we might get to spot an alligator or two and be on our merry way. Little did we know that we would soon be holding one, much to my mom’s dismay. For the very adventurous (and slightly crazy), the Colorado Gators Reptile Park even offers gator wrestling classes.
In addition to gators, we cozied up to snakes, giant tortoises and various other reptiles, as well as birds such as parrots and emus. In fact, we discovered that the Colorado Gators Reptile Park is somewhat of a refuge for unwanted exotic pets. This establishment emphasizes education, notably by displaying the suitability of keeping each animal as a pet and by offering programs for schools and other civic groups.
Thanks to the geothermal waters in the area, the Colorado Gators ReptilePark was originally created as a tilapia farm in 1977. Ten years later the owners brought in 100 baby alligators in 1987 later to help dispose of fish waste. To this day, they continue to raise and sell tilapia, and fill the bellies of some 300 alligators, including five albino gators. Maybe they feed them too well, because Elvis, one of the 1987 clan, weighs 600 pounds; Morris, the star from “Happy Gilmore” weighs 500 pounds, and, at 12.5 feet long, Bruce is well on his way to becoming one of the largest alligators in the west.
The Colorado Gators Reptile Park is open daily from 9am-4pm in the summer, 9am-5pm in the spring and fall, and 10am-4pm in the winter. Admission is free for children 5 and under and seniors 80+, $7.50 for kids ages 6-15 and seniors ages 65-79, and $15 for adults ages 16-64. Discount coupons for 20% off are available on their website.