Baby alligators part of show-and-tell for wildlife preservation lesson
More than 200 children and parents visited the Moss Bluff library Wednesday to meet “Gator Man” Gabe Griffin, public information officer for Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. Harris brought baby alligators on his visit, as he taught toddlers and children about the wealth of natural resources and animals native to Louisiana.
“Get up! We have to go see the alligators,” is how Tawni Roberts described her son’s excitement about seeing the exhibit. “He’s met Gator Man before at another event, but obviously we just had to come back and experience this one more time.”
Harris said the young boy’s reaction is a common trend among his visitors at community events, and he hopes the visits will translate into a life-long commitment to wildlife preservation.
“Everything I do is with the intention of taking and using what I see right now in these young people,” he said. “I’ve got their energy. Now, how can I get them to the coast? And maybe not physically, but thinking about Louisiana’s coast.”
Rockefeller Refuge, Harris’s station, has the fastest erosion rate in the state, losing 50-250 feet of land a year. This is a problem that is often lost on most of Louisiana residents, he said.
“We all are from here. We all have our heritage down here. Yet we don’t understand our coastal issue just an hour away from here.”
Harris said the alligators and wildlife education opportunities he offers will hopefully stir a passion in children to one day support the department’s big efforts to preserve many of the animal’s natural coastal habitats. The department is working on a $50 billion, 50-year master plan to alleviate the coastal crisis.
“Not every kid is going to be an engineer or a biologist, but we’re all taxpayers,” he said. “How awesome is it to go grow up in a state where we’ve got all of these things to be proud of but we’ve also got something worth fighting for?”
‘We all have our heritage down here. Yet we don’t understand our coastal issue just an hour away from here.’
Gabe “Gator Man” Griffin teaches children at the Moss Bluff Library how to properly handle and care for baby alligators Wednesday.
Amy Verkruissen, head of circulation at the Moss Bluff Library, helps visitors handle baby alligators Wednesday.