Cecil used to tell people that Garto was hundreds of years old. In his last years Garto looked that old but we know that alligators live in the wild about 50 years and about as long as humans do in captivity.
In the summer time when no self-respecting tourist would be caught dead in Florida's heat and humidity, (those days there was no a/c) Cecil would catch old Garto and haul him up to the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Cecil would charge you a buck to sit on Garto's back! That was back before lawsuits ruled the day and you didn't need licenses and liability insurance to do everything. Garto spent his last days here at Gatorama in a pool that use to be located back by the iguanas. He didn't move much in his old age so to keep the algae off his back we scrubbed his back a couple times each month. He died June 13, 1993 and his skull is displayed back by Willie's enclosure.
What we commonly call our goofy gators were a clutch of eggs that hatched out in 1992. They were all from the same sow and incubated along with the other 1000 eggs that year in the incubator. This clutch of gators were quite different looking. The foremost authority on alligator husbandry in the state of Florida stated after examining the gators that it looked to him like Kermit the frog had come visited with their Mom one day. There is a skull of one around here somewhere—anyway we use to have a pool of them out on the walkway and my Dad would tell people that he thought they were croc-a-gators. People loved to see them and still ask about them. Of course it would not be possible for them to be a cross between alligators and crocodiles since their breeding seasons are at different times of the year. One day a women reported us to USDA for exhibiting malformed animals. Our inspectors had seen them many times on their inspections but were unaware of a little known law—it is against the law to exhibit malformed animals to the public in the state of Florida. So they were moved to a grow out house. There may still be a couple over in the breeding area.
Gizmo is a descendant of the troop of monkeys that used to roam freely on the grounds of Gatorama in the 50's and 60's. The monkeys would run up and down the walkway and if the guests didn't feed them they would take your handbag or sunglasses and run off with them. Of course Cecil was ticketed many times for this safety violations and closed down for infractions like this. Dad had to capture those monkeys before he would be given his license to reopen Gatorama when he bought the place from Cecil. Gizmo had been hand raised by our family in our home. He traveled back and forth to work with us each day and was well known by the merchants in LaBelle. He had a special enclosure built for him right outside the office door that he played in while we were at work. Then in about 2000 USDA told us we could no longer house him by himself and we had to make the transition to him living with the remaining monkey's. Gizmo died of heart failure in the summer of 2006.
Bugger, a red-faced stumptail macaque, was the cage mate to Willy and a black-hooded capuchin named Blackey. They were retirees here from a traveling animal show. Bugger ran the roost! She was a sight to see with a grey frame around her aging winkled face and a flaming red butt to boot! Gizmo's parents were Tony and Cleo. Willy was our last monkey. Due to USDA regulations he could not be singularly housed and he lives now with a "girlfriend" at Sarasota Jungle Gardens.
Tiki the panther was owned by a woman up in Auburndale. She could no longer afford to keep the cat so her vet and our vet found the cat a new home at Gatorama. She was here for many years. She developed arthritis due to age and eventually became severely crippled and had to be "put down". Patty and Allen decided that we would not have a big cat again at Gatorama until we could build a bigger and better enclosure that could house a pair.