What was once an alligator farm is now an alligator tour, run by Mike Kliebert, who grew up around alligators. It started with his great-grandfather’s turtle farm near Ponchatoula, Louisiana. The family had the state’s first alligator farm, and now Mike gives tours at his private zoo with alligators, reptiles, amphibians, and a few other exotic animals and birds.
Kliebert describes his tours as educational. There’s the giant alligator snapping turtle his dad trapped 50 years ago. Kliebert lifts the massive turtle out of its tank and estimates that the animal weighs 120 pounds.
alligator tour popular with visitors and locals
Despite the prevalence of alligators in Louisiana, Kleibert says a lot of locals stop by. “When you can get 5-to-10 feet away from a 13-foot alligator and see that mouth open and see them teeth, and gargle down a big piece of chicken,” Klibert explains, “That’s when it’s fun.”
they can bite you
Kliebert says that he loves alligators. “A lot of people have dogs and cats,” Kliebert says, adding, “I got alligators.” But he admits that gators have a different bite than the standard house pet. Kliebert cautions, “Nothing bites like an alligator.” He adds that he has been bitten on occasion, even in the middle of a tour.
kliebert’s alligator tour featured on tv
a gator tour with crocodiles
While there are only alligators and no crocodiles found in Louisiana, Kliebert’s Gator Tour includes a couple of crocodiles on display. As he feeds the tan-colored croc, the animal seems more aggressive as it lunges for a piece of chicken that Kliebert dangles in front of it.
pet an alligator
The tour gives visitors who are anxious to pet an alligator an opportunity to hold one of the smaller reptiles. One woman who holds a gator in her arms describes it as cool to the touch, but heavy.
Snakes and other reptiles on display
The tour also includes a reptile house, where visitors can view a variety of snakes, large and small, through glass. Or those who want to touch can hold the snakes. It’s an opportunity for visitors to work through a fear of snakes.
alligator tour includes A variety of animals
Also on display are tortoises, which are eager to munch on large pieces of lettuce. There’s also an emu that visitors feed from cups, and other animals that wander through the tour area. Kliebert says that the biggest compliment he gets is, “we make people feel comfortable.” He describes his tour as educational, where visitors can get a very close look at animals that would normally be kept at a distance.
Kliebert & Sons Gator Tours is located along Interstate 55 in Ponchatoula, LA, about one-hour north of New Orleans. The address is 40511 West I-55 Service Road, Ponchatoula, LA, 70454. Phone: (985) 345-3617.