Tag Archives: alligators

The Chinese Alligator

Hi, Mr. Nature here.

Did you know there is a Chinese alligator? It’s in the same genus as our American alligator, closely related to it, but a lot smaller, not dangerous to human beings, and is almost extinct in the wild: less than 150 of them left, by most estimates. Their habitat keeps getting destroyed, and poachers shoot them for sale as a luxury meat.

The good news is that there are thousands of Chinese alligators in zoos throughout the world, captive breeding of this species has been very successful, and it could be reintroduced to the wild–if only their habitat could be preserved.

Our alligators were almost out for the count, back in the mid-20th century, but protection, conservation, and the alligator’s own adaptability brought them out of danger. Now they stroll around on golf courses.

One wonders how two such closely related species wound up so widely separated on the globe. Eastern China is a long way from Florida.

Gee, I remember all those stuffed alligators people used to bring back from Florida, when I was a kid. You don’t see those anymore. And that’s a good thing.

Bonus Video: Gator on the Golf Course

Here’s a little something we never have to contend with in New Jersey. But even in Florida–willya look at the size of that gator!

Note that the alligator, for all its bulk, walks with its belly high up off the ground. The man with the camera might have a few anxious moments if he reflected that even very large gators are capable of short bursts of real speed. At that distance, the gator could catch the man if he really wanted to. Just a little somethin’ to think about…

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