Adventure Girl

by ERIN THURSBY
When I heard about the zip line over the alligators at the Alligator Farm, I pictured myself dangling like a canape over the hungry creatures. But the gators don’t jump to chomp on your ankles as you pass over them. Instead, they seem nonplussed at the humans flying above as they stretch out and bask below.
I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed that my life was never in danger, but I suppose that anything hundreds of tourists do each week in St. Augustine can’t be all that life-threatening. Still, I did have to sign a waiver, so that’s something.
Post waiver-signing, I put on a harness, not unlike what you’d wear for rock climbing. After a demo and some hands-on experience on a demonstration course, we were ready to go. Three clips are attached to the harness. One is only used for the zip lines and the other two are used simply to secure you at all times to the safety cables. A pair of gloves completes your zip-lining ensemble.
Some amazing trees support the course route. Huge magnolia trees, protected by the zoo, were the largest I’d ever seen. Oaks and even the occasional palm tree are part of the network. Great care was taken to build platforms with room for the trees to grow and cables are arranged so they don’t cut into the trees through friction and growth.
This view of the zoo is unique. In fact, it’s the first place in the world to have a zip course over a zoo. They’ve angled educational signs up toward the climbers in the trees so that they can learn about the animals they can see from above. Besides the 23 species of crocodiles, you’ll also see plenty of other animals from your treetop view: Galapagos tortoises, bright exotic birds and Red Ruffed lemurs among others. Like the animals, most zoo patrons pay no attention to the people climbing in the trees above them.
Not all of the climbing takes place over the public part of the zoo. Some of it is over the behind-the-scenes areas. My climbing partner and I got to witness a veterinary procedure done on one of the juvenile gators. Once the gator’s check-up was done, they took the electrical tape from around his snout and slipped him back into the water with his brothers.
Most of the course is obstacle-based, with some zip lines in between. The obstacles are challenging, but even if you don’t do that much psychical activity, it’s manageable. You’ll feel a rush of accomplishment about halfway through some of the more difficult obstacles, when you figure out the most efficient way to cross the gap. The actual zip-lining is crazy fun. You go about 30 miles an hour down a steel cable, breaking with your hand at the end of the line.
If you haven’t been to the Alligator Farm’s Crocodile Crossing and you’re looking for something unique and satisfying to do on the weekend, this is it. The next time I have company, this will go to the top of the list as a new adventure in St. Augustine.

Facts and Tips
Crocodile Crossing at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, 999 Anastasia Blvd, St. Augustine; 824-3337
— The price is $25 for the shorter course and $65 for the longer course.
— Wear long shorts or light weight pants. If you wear short shorts, you will find things…
uncomfortable.
— Wear shoes that lace up. Flip-flops come off too easily.
— Put your loose valuables in your car. No cell phones, cameras or purses.
— The weight limit is 250 pounds.
— The minimum height is 57 inches and the minimum age is 10 years old.
— If you have a fear of heights, don’t do it.

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