by Jennifer Wright
I recently took my animal loving six year old son to the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary in Athens, MI. Our last visit was several years ago. It is very obvious that the sanctuary takes their business very seriously! I have met the owner in several occasions and he is passionate about his animals. The sanctuary is approximately 45 minutes from Kalamazoo….perfect for a quick field-trip.
Everybody That Visits Gets A Tour
Everybody that visits will be given a tour, it does not matter if you come by yourself with your children or as a group.
Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and offered quite a bit of interesting and fun information. I felt very safe during our visit. Each area is secured by fencing or plexi-glass. Our guide was also incredibly insistent on safety!
What You Will See
As you tour the sanctuary you will see:
- A Tortise
- Dwarf Caimans
My son loved watching me wince at the sight if the snakes!!!!
As you enter the actual sanctuary, you are greeted by a very large tortoise, guests are invited to enter the habitat and “pet” the tortoise. This was our favorite part!
The alligators are sectioned off by “grade level”…..nursery, elementary school, middle school, and high school. Basically, this means they are separated by size. They range from a little over a foot long to Godzilla sized!
Interactive activities always enhance any experience. Visitors are invited to feed the animals, from behind the fencing. Food pellets range in price from $3-$15.
More Tidbits of Information
Here are a few bits of information regarding the alligators and the sanctuary:
- There are approximately 100 alligators residing there.
- This is the only “zoo” of its kind within 600 miles.
- The alligators have come to live there from 16 different states.
- Some of the alligators are trained to perform certain tasks.
- Godzilla, who is nine feet long understands 18 different words and is trained to enter a crate.
The sanctuary is actually expanding too! A mini stadium is being built as a way for guests to experience the skills that the “college level” alligators have. A new habitat will also be constructed to house these animals.
Admission and Hours
They are open daily from 10 am-6 pm.
Admission prices are as follows:
- 2 and Under Free
- 3-13 $4.95
- 14-54 $6.95
- 55 and Older $4.95
- Active Military Free/Dependents $1.00
For more information, visit their website at Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary & Zoological Gardens or call 269-729-4802.
Our visit was both fun and educational….which I really appreciated! My son was at a perfect age to really understand the information offered.
Enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience!