Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gator Ate My Bebe

A couple weeks ago we visited the zoo again, but it was sauna hot so we only stayed until lunchtime. As we peeked over and through the fence at the gator pond in the Native Florida section, Miriam stared intensely at the dozing reptiles for a full minute. Suddenly she looked up at me and declared solemnly, "Gaido ate my bebe."

It was then I remembered I never reviewed the St Augustine Alligator Farm for the blog. My second thought was that the visit several months previous had scarred her for life.

Admission is pricey- $22 for adults and $11 for kids 3-11, though you can get a 10% discount for AAA, military, zoo membership, or group of 10+.

They aren't just gators. The collection includes just about every species of crocodile and caiman, plus snakes and other reptiles, as well as exotic birds. And then, of course, there enough alligators to give you nightmares:

The playground was pretty lame.

But the birds were very talkative:

This is the scene of the trauma:

This long walkway leads to the tomb of a massive alligator, stuffed and mounted for your viewing pleasure. Then you can walk many yards over alligator infested waters. And I mean infested. The kids ran back and forth while I tried not to panic- the rails really are designed to keep the people safe, but I am a mom, and those things would eat my precious children given the slightest chance.

Miriam, who at the time sported a binkie (aka "bebe") 24-7, ran excitedly across the walkway to see the gator swimming under it. She pointed and shouted "Rye dare!" and her pacifier slipped from her mouth only to be kicked over the side by her running feet.

"BEBE!" She screamed in panic. "BEBE INA WAH-DOH!!! GIHT MAH BEBE MOMMY!"

I tried to soothe her, but to no avail. She tried desperately to get to it (thank God for that fence), and was thrashing so much I jammed her in the stroller and buckled her down. Many people began staring at the Evil Mommy.

Though her copious tears, Miriam watched as Her Precious drifted under the bridge to the other side, where it caught the attention of an 8' alligator.

"NO!!! DAS MY BEBE!!! MOMMY!!! GAI-DOH EAT MAH BEBE!!! NOOOOO!!!!" The hysteria continued and grew as the gator nudged the pacifier, trying to ascertain its food potential. I had visions of being presented a bill for the pumping of a reptile's stomach. Miriam's screams echoed though the swamp, disturbing the birds that several people with massive cameras on tripods were photographing. I decided it was time to hightail it out of there and warn an employee that we had just polluted their water with a gator choking hazard.

Can you spot the binkie?
Fortunately the worker I found didn't seem concerned, and I decided to melt into the crowds before anyone could ask for my name and address. Miriam gradually calmed down as I reassured her we had an extra pacifier in the car.

Now, many months later, she only is allowed to have her binkie in bed. And while I thought she had forgotten the whole incident, the memory recently awoke and she has suddenly become obsessed with the toy alligators we have. She carries them almost everywhere, and often she will hold one up for observation, either to Mike or me or one of the other kids, and seriously inform us that "Owagaidoh ate my bebe." The one place she won't bring the alligators with her is to bed.

Not taking any chances, apparently.

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