The Seven Rivers gallery at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is the new home for four juvenile American alligators. The newest additions to the aquarium family can be seen at the gallery’s gateway, basking on rocks or lounging under the water.
The gators, named Ham, Cheese, Turkey and Gravy, are all around two years old and approximately 18 inches long. They arrived at NCARI while the aquarium was under renovation, and spent a year behind the scenes while the Seven Rivers gallery was being completed. Since being introduced to their new habitat in December, the four have adjusted quickly to their surroundings.
“They really took to their home,” said Assistant Curator Kristin Clark. “I expected them to be shy at first and hide, but they were comfortable right off.”
The alligators came to the aquarium after being seized by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission from a person who had obtained them illegally online. Their names came from the food they were being fed before officials intervened, and though Ham, Cheese, Turkey and Gravy make for cute names, that kind of food is not healthy for growing alligators.
Since arriving at NCARI, the four are provided a much more beneficial diet of fish, crayfish, crickets, and specially fortified alligator pellets. They are fed using a technique called target training, in which each alligator has a different colored shape they target to, making it their own personalized name tag.