Alligator with Dragonfly Copyright 2005 Jeff Wignall
I've had a love-hate relationship with zoos and animal farms my whole life and I have to confess that as I get older, it's mostly a "hate" relationship. As a very young kid I loved being close to wild animals so much that I overlooked the uneasy feeling I got seeing these wonderful creatures locked behind steel bars and padding along on concrete floors. And I'm still thrilled to stand just a few feet from a lion or a polar bear or to come within touching distance of an alligator. But most zoos and animal "farms," as they often call small zoos in tourist locations, leave me cold. If we put as much money into preserving wild spaces as some cities do into creating zoos, there would be less need for the zoos. With all this in mind, I was very happy this past winter to come upon an animal farm that I felt good about after spending a few hours there: the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida (http://www.alligatorfarm.com/).