Go BIG this Memorial Day Weekend and visit OdySea Aquarium to meet Mighty Mike – one of the biggest, most astounding alligators in the country – setting up a short-term residency at the Aquarium just in time for summer break!  OdySea Aquarium is throwing a huge celebration, Crocodilian Rock, Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday, Sunday and Monday, May 25-27) in honor of his arrival — and just in time for summer break!  Crocodilian Rock festivities are free with paid Aquarium admission and will feature opportunities to meet additional reptiles, crocodilians and other animals up-close with Animal Care Specialists, educational talks, and special activities for the entire family!  Guests eager to see Mighty Mike before Memorial Day Weekend can see him beginning May 17 on the top floor of OdySea Aquarium. 

Mighty Mike, considered the largest alligator in the country on display outside of the state of Florida, weighs 800 pounds and is 14 feet long!  He is longer than most cars and can swallow an entire turkey in a single gulp. Over the past several years, Mighty Mike has toured the country with Florida-based reptile expert Bruce Shwedick, spreading the word for the conservation of the crocodilian species.  Mighty Mike will be making a temporary stop at OdySea Aquarium until Spring 2020. 

“Mighty Mike, an ambassador for his species, will provide families visiting OdySea Aquarium with a unique opportunity to better understand the American alligator. He’s a marvel with his massive jaws, rows of teeth, and powerful tail,” said Greg Charbeneau, Vice President and General Manager of OdySea Aquarium.  “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! We look forward to educating guests about this incredible creature and his species.”

Conservation Efforts Saved the Species

The American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), found in the Southeastern United States, including Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, is one of 23 crocodilian species known in the world.  Close to extinction almost 40 years ago, they were among the first animals listed in the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, the first federal animal conservation law of its kind. Conservation and research efforts ultimately helped save the American alligator from the brink of extinction.

Mealtime with Mighty Mike

In addition to their jaw-dropping size, American alligators also have one of the strongest bites of any living animal – 2,000 pounds per square inch, which is five times stronger than a great white shark’s bite.  At OdySea Aquarium, Mighty Mike will demonstrate his “jaw-some” power during his public feedings, which usually include four to nine pounds of meat — chicken, pork shoulder, large rodents, turkey, and rabbit.

“What an opportunity for visitors – especially local Arizona residents – to see a creature like Mighty Mike,” said Dave Peranteau, Director of Animal Care and Conservation at OdySea Aquarium.  “Many are only familiar with alligators through tantalizing news stories about these enormous animals showing up on Florida golf courses or in someone’s pool. Seeing Mighty Mike in-person at OdySea Aquarium gives visitors perspective; an up-close chance to see a real prehistoric predator, almost eye-to-eye!” 

Mighty Mike, the Ambassador

His large size not only makes him enjoyable to watch, but it also saved his life.  In 2000, residents of Lake Talquin, Fla., grew concerned with a large alligator that was frequenting a public boat dock.  Wildlife authorities declared him a nuisance and ordered him destroyed, as required by state law.  However, the trapper who was hired to catch him realized he was special because of his dimensions so the trapper and his son asked Shwedick, the “local reptile expert” to provide the alligator with a new home.  Shwedick adopted him, quickly named him after the trapper’s son, Mike, and is now Mighty Mike’s keeper.

Visiting Mighty Mike on exhibit at OdySea Aquarium is included in admission to the Aquarium.  Crocodilian Rock festivities are included in paid admission to OdySea Aquarium. To purchase tickets visit odyseaaquarium.com.