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Gator Aid

By Linda Tancs

Over a million alligators live in Florida, a fact not surprising to Floridians and their guests. The ubiquitous creature was even declared the official state reptile in 1987. Unwelcome on golf courses and in backyard pools, this ancient species (more than 150 million years old) enjoys a happier haven at Paynes Prairie State Park. Encompassing a 21,000 acre savanna in Micanopy (less than 10 miles from Gainesville), the park’s nature trails circling wetlands and marsh habitat provide close-up views of this once-threatened crocodilian. A National Natural Landmark, the park is the state’s first preserve, boasting not only scaly denizens but also wild horses and bison.

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