For our last stop in Shreveport, Louisiana, we went to Gators & Friends. G&F is a combo petting zoo and exotics park. You purchase your admission in a cute gift shop that offers everything from stuffed alligators to dried alligator heads. In the gift shop, you can also buy large cups of animal feed for $2. (the food is for hand feeding some of the domestic animals) Immediately out the back door will be your first glimpse at gators. Lots of gators. The alligators are grouped based on size so they don’t eat each other!
A little farther behind the gift shop, there is a big walking loop that is bordered by pens of animals. Everything from ring tailed lemurs to kangaroos, camels to goats, chital deer to capibara. The kids enjoyed feeding the geese, ponies, and goats (they had The Cutest new kids in there too!); personally, as a mom, I loved the container that the animal food came in! LOL! The food came in large hot beverage containers, and the kids could just pop open the drink spout and it would portion out the food. The food lasted much longer, and it wouldn’t all spill at once if the kids dropped it. While we were visiting, there were couples also doing the loop, having a good time feeding the animals together, so it’s not just for kids! 😉
Mixed in through-out the walking loop were exotics like African deer and a nutria (huge rat-like creature). After we spent 45 minutes walking the loop and feeding a lot of animals, we arrived at the big gator pond. The pond is home to dozens of 6 to 8 foot gators! They have a large meandering waterway to swim in, with islands to sun themselves on. There is a raised walkway over the gator enclosure, and several viewing platforms, so you can get up close.
A unique feature of this park is it’s Zip Line course! The zip line has several different sections, and the sections zip right over some of the animal enclosures, including the big gator pond (there are 2 zip line islands that hover over the gator pen). You can buy the line in sections if you aren’t sure you’ll like zip lining, or you can buy the whole thing (for a discount). It looked like a great course!
After we had finished touring the grounds, we got to meet and hold ‘George’. George is a 4 year old alligator that the park brings out for the visitors to see, and even hold if you want to. We wanted to!
For us, holding a gator (you can take pics!) was the ultimate Louisiana experience, and the employee that brought George out even offered to take a family photo of all of us with George!
We really enjoyed our visit to Shreveport!
To complete any visit to a new location, don’t forget some great local foods. In Shreveport, we recommend Kim’s Seafood & Po-Boys. The owners had a restaurant in New Orleans, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina; they’ve now moved up to Shreveport, and have a nice place that serves (only Louisiana-caught) seafood! Check them out for authentic Louisiana fare, including crawfish, and soft-shell crab po-boys!
We’ll be covering a lot more of Louisiana over the next couple of weeks, and during our travels here, we’ve found a wonderfully hospitable state that is bursting at the seams with interesting destinations! Our family is spending two weeks visiting Louisiana, and we could have easily filled more time both here, and in the state as a whole (we could have spent a week just hung around and checked out the bayous/swamps!).