Monday, January 12, 2009

Silver Springs

On Sunday, I was invited to go to Silver Springs. I was hesitant to agree since it was a $35.00 admission charge, but I haven't been in a while and thought it might be a nice thing to do. Plus they had some coupons on-line that I had planned on printing out, but of course didn't. Ended up hitting a hotel looking for coupons and got lucky with free passes to get into Silver Springs, wooh whoo! Happy girl I was.
We started out looking at the white alligators (true albinos) who looked very bored in their little tank. But I guess they can't hang with the rest of the alligators in the sun, huh? Sun burn and all. Plus possibly killed by the other alligators, etc. In the same area was some otters, and when active these guys can be too much fun. If there was a bench in here, I may not have gotten much farther into the park. I did shoot a little video for ya though. See at the bottom.

From here we checked out the rest of the alligator / crocodile enclosures. Silver Springs does have some very unique members of the crocodilian family. So we poked around and looked at some of these. The one with the really skinny snout is called a false gharial. In reality it is a crocodile, but it looks very much like a gharial. I pulled up pics of a gharial on the internet and their snouts are even more narrow. It looks really odd.
The next odd one was a pygmy crocodile. This looks like a juvenile crocodile except its snout is almost a triangle. Where normal crocs have really long snouts, this one looks like it got stunted. But it's full grown. This is as big as she gets. I know you can't tell from the picture, but she's about 3 feet long.

While we were in the crocodilian section, we stopped and watched 3 shows. One show had alligators between 1-3 years old. One show had snakes. And one show had a bat (cool), scorpion (scary), and a tarantula. I touched the tarantula. Only for about 2 seconds, but it still counts!!!! Her name was Charlotte.

Silver Springs is most famous for their glass bottom boats. There are three different boat rides in total and we took them all. Each ride focuses on something a little different, history, nature and Hollywood. One of the guides told us over 90 movies have been shot at Silver Springs, I'm not sure I believe him, but I know a lot of movies have been shot here. He listed Smokey and the Bandit and I don't remember much of the movie that could have benefited here. It was mostly "road" shots. But multiple Tarzan movies were shot here, Creature from the Black Lagoon and many more. There are still some interesting things to see at the bottom. Lots of turtles and springs. There used to be lots of fish too. Now there are a couple of fish, but mostly just Plecostomus - you know those algae eaters people put in their fish tanks? Once they get too big the dump them in a river or lake, where they find that fish eggs taste better than algae. So now there are very little fish.
But the boat rides were cool, and we could see all the way down to the bottom. We saw some wild alligators, turtles, anhinga, little blue herons, swamp chickens, and a few other things.

In the Spring of 1938 some moron brought over a couple of Rhesus Monkeys from Asia and put them on an island in the middle of Silver River. He owned a tourist boat company and he thought it would be cool to have some monkeys around for scenery. Unfortuately, he didn't do any research before making this decision and when he returned to the island the next day, not a single monkey was still there. A little research would have informed him that the Rhesus Monkeys like to swim :) So now there is a feral population of Rhesus Monkeys that range between Gainsville and Tampa. Currently there are some living in a city park in Lakeland. While we were there, we saw two monkeys stealing food from the big Aldabra Tortoise.
We also went up the lighthouse ride, which gave us a great
view of the park and allowed me to play with my new camera. The ride was in constant motion, so most of the scenery pics here were taken while I was moving. I'm very happy with this camera.

There is also a world of bears section and a petting zoo. The Kodiak bear here is named Max and he used to be in the circus. Now he hangs here. He was really really big.

The petting zoo contained llamas that spit, a couple of miniature horses, some turkeys, swans (ya, those are well known for their friendliness) a donkey and basically a bunch of cranky critters that didn't want to have anything to do with us. But I got a couple of nice pictures.

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