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Gators and Baboons

After living in Florida for over fifteen years, I'm quite familiar with this guy: The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). I once learned that 90% of Florida's waterways contained gators, that includes lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, man made canals, and even retention ponds and roadside gullies! Although they're range does extend up into north eastern parts of North Carolina, the best chance of spotting one is at the zoo! In 1967, they were in danger of extinction, due to over hunting and loss of habitat, but in 1987 the species had fully recovered. Hatch-lings begin with a diet of insects, larvae, and worms. As they grow they move to larger prey like small fish, turtles, snakes, and birds, and finally graduating to larger mammals such as raccoons, and deer. Although humans are not typically on the menu, we are not entirely overlooked as an easy meal, and our pets are just as appetizing.

The NC Zoo had one of the largest populations of Hamadryas Baboons in the United States, and I could spend the whole day watching their comical antics. However, there's another side to baboons that is not so funny. Males are very aggressive, and will use stern looks, angry barks, swipes, and even nasty bites to control their females. They will also sometimes hold the young offspring as hostages, until they get their way! A dominant male baboon and his nine or so females is called a "harem". Often, two or more harems will unite to form a "clan". When two to four clans come together, it is known as a "band". A Band can contain more than two hundred baboons! When several bands come together, it is called a "Troop".

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