SALT RIVER PIMA-MARICOPA INDIAN COMMUNITY — Meet Mighty Mike.
He is a 14-foot, 800-pound American Alligator who can apparently eat an entire turkey whole. And he is making an extended trip to the Valley of the Sun.
The massive touring reptile -- billed as the "largest alligator on display outside the state of Florida" -- is headed to Odysea Aquarium where he will be on public display later this month through next spring, according to a news release.
He will serve as an ambassador for the conservation of crocodiles alongside his human companion and reptile expert, Bruce Shwedick, the release said.
"Mighty Mike, an ambassador for his species, will provide families visiting Odysea Aquarium with a unique opportunity to better understand the American alligator," said Greg Charbeneau, the aquarium's vice president and general manager, in a statement. "He's a marvel with his massive jaws, rows of teeth and powerful tail, but his incredible size and stature is what makes him memorable to guests. You can't completely grasp how large Mighty Mike is until you see him in person."
His exhibit will be on the top floor of the aquarium where the American Paddlefish exhibit was, said Karin Gallo, spokesperson for Odysea in the Desert, the entertainment complex near the Loop 101 and Via de Ventura near Scottsdale. The Paddlefish were taken off-exhibit, she said.
People will be able to see Mighty Mike on display starting May 17. If you're at the aquarium at the right time, you may even be able to see him being fed. Gallo said Mighty Mike is fed once a week.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27, the aquarium is hosting "Crocodilian Rock," a weekend-long event to celebrate the gator's arrival. People will be able to meet other crocodiles, reptiles, and animals, and attend education talks, the release said. Those activities are included with regular admission, which varies between $25-$36.
How did Mighty Mike become an ambassador for his species? According to the release, in 2000, residents of Lake Talquin, Florida (west of Tallahassee) noticed him frequenting near a public boat dock and were concerned. The alligator was deemed a nuisance and "ordered him destroyed, as required by state law." The trappers were impressed with the alligator's size and contacted Bruce Shwedick who adopted him.
Might Mike spent five years at the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky. Last fall, he was moved to the Crocodilian Conservation Center in Florida.
IF YOU GO:
9500 East Vía de Ventura, Scottsdale, AZ 85256