As the weather begins to turn colder, the American alligators at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve slow down and retreat to the water.
Zoo owner Richard Hahn says in order to move the alligators to a warmer environment for the winter, they have an alligator roundup on Sunday.
The roundup is done a la Steve Irwin, otherwise known as the Crocodile Hunter.
“One person, the biggest and strongest, gets on the alligator’s back and controls the skull while at least two others control the feet and tail,” Hahn said. “Then they wrap the nose with tape and carry the alligator to a pickup truck and take it to the building where they will hibernate.”
The zoo is home to about a thousand animals.
Temperate-climate animals, such as small monkeys, can stay out but have places to retreat to at night and in bad weather.
Tropical animals, like the iguanas in the zoo, are moved to heated buildings for the winter.
Hahn bought the zoo in 1966 when it was only a few acres in size.
Over the years, he has expanded it to 100 acres with 56 of those acres developed as exhibits.
The zoo is a series of walking trails that run past exhibits, both indoor and outdoor, loosely grouped by world region.
The zoo has a petting zoo, a bat house, and a reptile house. There is a condor that Hahn estimates is 75 years old.
There is an outdoor area with ochreata macaque monkeys, which are fascinating to watch as they socialize and play.
There are even Australian dingo puppies, wolves, a kangaroo, an emu, and a foosa, which is the largest carnivore in Madagascar.
Every turn of the trail reveals another fascinating group of animals.
In addition to walking through the zoo, visitors can also see zebras, bison, antelope and sheep from vehicles on the 45 minute Global Safari Ride that covers 25 acres.
Hahn is clearly proud of all his animals but is especially proud of the 125 turtles and tortoises. He is keen to provide a haven to help preserve the native species in their country of origin.
The alligator roundup will happen on Sunday at 1 p.m. and is open to the public.
The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve is open daily in November from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Thanksgiving. Admission ranges from $22.50 for adults to $16.50 for children with discounts for seniors and members of the military.