When it comes to seeking out adventure in the 904, it’s difficult to find a more quintessential Floridian experience than visiting the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. Established in 1893, the Alligator Farm is teeming with exotic wildlife ranging from fearsome crocs (see: the 1200 lb. Maximo) to vibrant birds and reptiles. We caught up with zoo director John Brueggen (a real life Indiana Jones if we ever saw one) to learn more about the #1 outdoor attraction in St. Augustine.
What is it that makes the Alligator Farm unlike other zoos?
We are the only place in the world where you can see 24 species of crocodilians. Guests are also able to get closer to the animals than they can in the bigger zoos.
What’s something about the farm’s crocs and alligators that would be surprising to most people?
We can control the sex of a crocodile by what temperature we incubate the eggs.
Could you make the case that alligators are the number one creature in the 904?
Alligators are by far the number one creature in the 904! They have gone from an endangered species to being in almost every freshwater area in Florida. They have been amazing visitors in our zoo for 126 years now!
What’s the #1 thing to do at the Alligator Farm other than learn about alligators?
We have wildlife shows at the top of every hour, including the Rainforest Review, Florida Forest Friends, and our very popular alligator feeding shows.
Your employees must have some guts to work around such beautiful-but-intimidating creatures every day. What does it take to work there?
Most of our zookeepers have a degree in Biology, Zoology, or Wildlife Management. Some even attended Santa Fe Community College’s Zoo School. All of our employees know that our customers are the most important thing to us and we go out of our way to make visits an unforgettable experience.
What’s it like working with a crocodile that’s as large and as impressive as Maximo? What sort of mindset do you have to have to work with animals as large as this?
Working with any large predators requires a clear head. Crocodiles are much smarter than people tend to give them credit for. They learn our behaviors and are quite trainable, but that also means they can be quite dangerous. Working with Maximo is very rewarding though, especially when he is leaping out of the water for his food!
Tell us a little more about what feeding time is like at the zoo. What are the crocs fed? What are the reactions of your visitors typically?
Our crocodiles are fed a varied diet. It includes a specially made croc chow from Purina (Mazuri brand), rats, chickens, fish, etc. Our most popular shows are the feeding shows as that is when our guests get to see these large reptiles actually doing something. When they are not eating they are frequently basking in the sun and digesting.
What was the farm’s motivation for creating the first ever zip-line over crocs?
We are a small park and if we didn’t do the zip-line over the zoo, then we wouldn’t have the ability to do it anywhere else. Many of our guests want to go out and have an adventure. This lets them do that right in the middle of St. Augustine, without having to travel long distances.
Here are the complete results of our #1 in the 904 Sports & Entertainment poll:
Amelia Island Attraction / Activity (indoor)
Marlin & Barrel Distillery
Amelia Island Attraction / Activity (outdoor)
Arcade / Game Facility
Keg & Coin
Hannah Park – COJ
Date Activity / Non-Restaurant (indoor)
Date Activity / Non-Restaurant (outdoor)
Family Attraction / Activity (indoor)
Family Attraction / Activity (outdoor)
Riverside Arts Market
Springing the Blues
Greater Jax Kingfish
Hangout Spot (indoor)
Hangout Spot (outdoor)
Tommy Hulihan Camps
Outdoor Equipment Rental Company (SUP, kayak, bike, etc)
Southern Breeze Cart Rental
Place to Find Love
Place to watch a Jags Away Game
St. Augustine Attraction / Activty (indoor)
St. Augustine Distillery Tour
St. Augustine Attraction / Activty (outdoor)
Tourist Attraction (indoor)
Tourist Attraction (outdoor)