Gator Chateau and Visitors Center will open by early April

JENNINGS — A new $664,000 Gator Chateau and Visitors Center for Jeff Davis Parish is now substantially complete.

The 5,000-square-foot facility is expected to open at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Park, just off Interstate 10 in Jennings, by early April with a grand opening to be scheduled later, according to Tourism Commission Marketing Director Dione Sabelhaus.

“I’m really excited that the alligators will have a new habitat and bigger area that they can swim in,” Sabelhaus said. “It will also be bigger, providing more space for our visitors to see alligators.”

More than 22,850 people from the United States and more than 50 countries visited the Gator Chateau and Visitors Center last year. The numbers were down from the 31,947 visitors the previous year due to the construction, Sabelhaus said.

Sabelhaus said Thursday that crews are working to put the finishing touches on the facility to include staining the front porch, installing an alligator incubator and a 12-foot alligator tank.

“Once we get the keys we will be able to go in and start putting the brochure racks and all our other stuff in there so that we will be ready to go,” she said.

The exhibit’s snapping turtle, Pierre, along with about a dozen alligators will be added to the exhibit next month. The exhibit will feature at least four larger alligators in the “lazy river” pond and several baby alligators the public can hold and take pictures with.

“Hopefully by the first part of April we will be ready for the public to come in and see it,” she said.

Billboards will be placed along I-10 announcing the new attraction to travelers.

“I am hoping that it will bring in a whole bunch of new people who will come spend their money in Jeff Davis Parish,” Sabelhaus said.

Construction on the new alligator house began last summer with funding from revenue from a 4 percent hotel/motel tax dedicated to tourism. The tax is paid by people who stay in area hotels, motels, RV parks and campgrounds.

It will replace the older, smaller Gator Chateau that was torn down to make room for the new facility.

The Gator Chateau will be open free to the public and tour groups 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.””

Jeff Davis Parish Tourism Commission Marketing Director Dione Sabelhaus checks the water temperature for the alligator pond at the new Gator Chateau and Visitors Center currently wrapping up construction at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Park in Jennings. The facility will feature live alligators, visitor information, gift shop, front porch and public restrooms.

Doris Maricle / American Press
Doris MaricleJefferson Davis Parish Reporter
https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/2/0b/363/20b363ec-3a6d-11e7-be79-bf9dc8973cf5.4ddcfc90d57047524e082314ecc99992.png
””

Jeff Davis Parish Tourism Commission Marketing Director Dione Sabelhaus checks the water temperature for the alligator pond at the new Gator Chateau and Visitors Center currently wrapping up construction at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Park in Jennings. The facility will feature live alligators, visitor information, gift shop, front porch and public restrooms.

Doris MaricleJefferson Davis Parish Reporter
https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/2/0b/363/20b363ec-3a6d-11e7-be79-bf9dc8973cf5.4ddcfc90d57047524e082314ecc99992.png

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