Mississippi River Realm

Take a walk down our Alligator Alley Exhibit on a see-through floor above the alligators, or get up face-to-face with these fierce, prehistoric creatures. When they’re not sunning themselves, alligators are completely submerged in the water except for their eyes and nose for camouflage. They, like most reptiles, tend not to move at all unless they have to so as to preserve precious energy. Once dinner comes into range, alligators move at lightning speed to capture their prey and start the “death roll” under the water.

Notice our preserved Alligator Gar specimen and realize that these sharp-toothed prehistoric fishes still exist today in the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Imagine catching a gar this size on your fishing line!

The Mississippi River system is the primary source of water in the United States. Thousands of rivers and creeks are tributaries to this giant, muddy river. Forests and rich farmland surround the river on its journey to the Gulf of Mexico. In our Mississippi River Exhibit, you can find channel catfish, bullhead catfish,long-nose gar, assorted bass and sunfish and various terrapins including an alligator snapping turtle. Notice the pronounced spikes (scutes) on the alligator snapping turtle’s back. When this turtle is looking for food, he’ll stay very still, open his mouth really wide and wiggle a worm-like attachment on his tongue to catch hungry fishes. Catfishes feel along the muddy bottom of the river bed with their long, sensitive whiskers. Their whiskers have taste buds on them so they can taste and make sure that the food is good to eat before gulping it down the hatch.