Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It Was Gator Country for Kids for an Hour

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It Was Gator Country for Kids for an Hour

Article excerpt

PALM VALLEY -- More than 75 people, mostly children, gathered

Saturday under the shade of an old oak tree in Palm Valley to

see, touch and learn about alligators and native snakes.

Tim Williams, from Gatorland in Orlando, entertained and

educated the crowd during a one-hour show presented by Eddie's

Palm Valley Crossing restaurant.

"We stress safety," Williams said before the show. "I teach

them how to recognize different types of snakes, what to do if a

snake comes around and first aid."

He also had the children grunting like gators, taught them

about the animals' courtship and parental care and explained the

rules about alligators in the wild.

"It is against the law to feed, catch, bother or even touch an

alligator," he said.

Williams explained that alligators got their name from the

Spanish word for lizard and their size depends on how much they

eat. Then he touched the reptile's eyes to demonstrate how they

protect their eyes by pulling them into their skulls. He also

cleared up any question about whether the tail or the mouth is

the reptile's most dangerous part.

"What part is taped shut?" he asked.

James Mangham brought his two daughters, Kaitlin, 8, and

Meghann, 11, from the Westside to attend the program. The

youngest has seven pet toads.

"I came here because I wanted to learn about snakes and to

touch them," Kaitlin said.

Connie Samson, manager of the restaurant, organized the summer

program of Saturday sessions for children after owner Eddie

Ervin Jr., expressed interest in doing something for the

community. The program, which includes lunch, costs $5 per and

continues through Aug. 16. Each program covers a different

subject, including gun safety, drug and stranger awareness, and

stock car racing.

Ryan Brooks, who wants to be a scientist and study snakes when

he grows up, knew a lot about snakes before attending the

program.

"My mom surprised me with this, but I am really interested in

snakes," he said, "in how they move and what they are going to

do. If you stand there, they can't see you and if you move

they'll probably strike. …

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