The SPI Birding and Nature Center is also an alligator sanctuary.

There are 50 or more alligators there at any given time.

Most alligators at the sanctuary are infants or juveniles

The alligator in my feature photo is named “Big Padre”. At 54 years old, 12.5 feet long and almost 900 lbs, he’s the oldest and largest alligator in the sanctuary. He was rescued from Port Arthur, Tx, after he became what’s known as a nuisance gator. Local fishermen had been feeding him, so he had grown accustomed to human interaction. One day, when a gentleman was docking his boat, Big Padre swam up and rested his head on the boat, naturally frightening the man. In being rescued and brought to the SPI Birding and Nature Center, Big Padre fared better than most nuisance gators.

When I first looked at this big brute, I thought he was a concrete sculpture. I watched him for a very long time until he opened an eye. I found it amusing that he’s on a diet.

I was disappointed that this was another occasion that I didn’t use landscape mode to take my photos. By shooting in portrait mode, I didn’t compose the shots correctly, so I cut off some of the tails.