On our way out of the Everglades to the Gulf Coast of Florida we drove through Big Cypress National Preserve. I know, I know, I'm running in National Parks, not National Preserves, but this was noteworthy and I will more than likely do more along these lines as opportunity presents itself.
Big Cypress is home to Florida Panthers and alligators mostly. As we drove into the Visitor Center we noticed a group of people looking in the borrowing pond next to the road. As we approached we saw alligators, big black alligators all over. Some were 6 feet from the road and the cars whizzing by. I'm certain those drivers never knew what was lying nearby.
There's 2 in this picture! See the one next to the guardrail.
Fred reported that he got within 5 feet of one of the alligators to get a close up shot. I reminded him that the sign most definitely states not to get within 15 feet of them. They are faster than they look!
The panther population is suffering from fatal encounters with cars on the road that cuts through the preserve. People speed at night and collide with the beautiful creatures. It's sad because so many could be spared if people would slow down and observe the 45 mph. The Florida Panther looks similar to the Mountain Lions we have in Colorado. They are somewhat smaller than the Mountain Lion.
This preserve is very important to the wildlife of southern Florida. Worth a visit.