An Special Section FRIDAY, MAY 14, 1999
Hours, prices, and other information were current at time of publication and may have changed.


- Introduction
- Going there
- The murals
- The music
- Shop and Eat
- Beginnings


- World Rivers
- Shore Gallery
- Touch Pool
- Bizarre & Beautiful
- Dangerous & Deadly
- Riverbank
- 'Gator Bayou
-Amazon Rain Forest
- Coral Reef
- Jellyfish Gallery
- Kingdom of Penguins
- Ray Nursery
- Repopulation
- Surrounded by Sharks


- Staff and keepers
Oceanic Adventures Newport Aquarium] [Building image]
'Gator Bayou
Duck the dangling moss and peer over the rustic rail at really big alligators

[riverbank mural]
Shack with Spanish Moss
        Spanish Moss hangs from trees over Gator Bayou, home to the American Alligators. Standing trees join hundreds painted on the walls. A few painted birds soar over the tree tops. The scene, that of a dim wetland Louisiana forest, almost feels humid.

        It seems fitting that alligators lurk below.

        Peer cautiously over the log railing on the foot bridge, but don't dangle your toes. Alligators can get hungry — and there are five of them.

        To be on the safe side, look through one of two clear windows placed in the floor of the bridge.

        Tucked in one corner of the display area is a run-down wooden shack with a rusting tin roof. The tenants have departed, chased out by gators in all likelihood.

        Now the reptiles use the front porch that doubles as a dock as a dry lounging place. The bridge, which cuts diagonally through the square display, has been crafted to look as though it was made from logs found in the wetlands.

About the artwork
        Hundreds of trees rise from the water in this depiction of a wild Bayou habitat. The colors are dark and ominous. The water looks eerily still, undisturbed by the alligators inevitably patrolling the wetland waters.

        American Alligators live in coastal wetlands from North Carolina to southern Florida.

        The two acrylic floor sections, which allow visitors to get a good look at the gators below, cost $20,000. Their dimensions: 7.8 by 7 feet and 7.8 by 8.3 feet.

What gators eat
        Alligators eat snails, crabs, amphibians, fish, birds, snakes and mammals — including small calves. They are not picky eaters.

How big do they get?
        American Alligators can reach 19 feet in length.

What you won't see
        A warm, humid environment is crucial to the health of animals in the Gator Bayou. So while there may be snow outside, inside the bayou it's a toasty 85-95 degrees. The warmth is provided by hot water coils buried under the concrete. These coils continuously circulate hot water keeping the room warm and the animals comfortable. Water here is heated to a constant 70-75 degrees.

Exhibit by the numbers
        8: foot alligator is Gator Bayou's largest

        15-30: pounds of food consumed weekly by the largest gator

        3,600: gallons of water

        12: gallons of paint used to paint the mural

        1,239: trees in the mural

        731: pounds is the combined weight of the acrylic floor panels

        300: pounds is average weight of a full-grown male gator

        19 feet 2 inches: size of largest alligator recorded

Stars of the Tank
        American Alligators: Alligators provide other aquatic animals and plants with a habitat by digging deep holes in their wetlands.

        Alligators used to roam as far north as Maryland, but cooling temperatures have forced them to stay further south. They live in marshlands, swamps, rivers, ponds and lakes. Alligators will not eat if the water temperature around them falls below 68 degrees.

        Female alligators build mounds and lay between 20 and 50 eggs. Turtles have been known to lay eggs next to an alligator's to take advantage of the security benefits.

The Tristate is Goin' Fishin'
Going to the Aquarium
Murals bring seascapes to life
Music sets the mood for 16 exhibits
Shop, eat and watch a movie
The making of an aquarium
World Rivers
Shore Gallery
Touch Pool
Bizarre & Beautiful
Dangerous & Deadly
- 'Gator Bayou
Amazon Rain Forest
Coral Reef
Jellyfish Gallery
Kingdom of Penguins
Ray Nursery
Surrounded by Sharks
Meet the staff and keepers

Copyright 1999 The Cincinnati Enquirer, a Gannett Co. Inc. newspaper.
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