NYC - Bronx - Bronx Zoo: World of Reptiles - American Alligator
The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is one of the two living species of Alligator, a genus within the family Alligatoridae. The American Alligator is native only to the southeastern United States, where it inhabits wetlands that frequently overlap with human-populated areas.
The American Alligator has a large, slightly rounded body, with thick limbs, a broad head, and a very powerful tail. Males can weigh 500 lbs to over 1000 pounds and stretch to 9 to 14.5 feet. The tail, which accounts for half of the alligator's total length, is primarily used for aquatic propulsion but can also be used as a weapon of defense when an alligator feels threatened. Alligators travel very quickly in water, but are generally slow-moving on land.
Historically, alligators were depleted from many parts of their range as a result of market hunting and loss of habitat. In 1967, the alligator was listed as an endangered species under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973. A combined effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies in the South, and the creation of large, commercial alligator farms saved the American Alligator from extinction and today they are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
The Bronx Zoo, located within the Bronx Park, is the largest metropolitan zoo in the United States, comprising 265 acres of parklands and naturalistic habitats and home to over 4,000 animals. Focused on conservation, it opened on November 8, 1899, with 22 exhibits, 843 animals. The zoo's origins date back to 1895, with the establishment of the New York Zoological Society (NYZS), renamed Wild Conservation Society (WCS) in 1993. Only the outer structure of the World of Reptiles remains much as it was in 1899. With the 1941 opening of African Plains, the Bronx Zoo was one of the first U.S. zoos to move away from cages and exhibit animals in naturalistic habitats.