Thursday, March 04, 2021

David, “The Lake Michigan Alligator,” Makes Gatorland His Forever Home

Gatorland®, the “Alligator Capital of the World™”, is excited to welcome David, the “Lake Michigan Alligator,” to his new forever home. David is the famous alligator who was discovered in October 2018 floating with his mouth taped shut in the frigid waters of Waukegan Harbor 35 miles north of Downtown Chicago. Fisherman David Castaneda reeled in the alligator (which was later named after him) and it was taken to the Wildlife Discovery Center at Elawa Farm in nearby Lake Forest. The City of Waukegan’s Facebook post on David was viewed by more than 1.1 million visitors worldwide.

“We are thrilled to welcome David to our Gatorland family, and provide him a wonderful “retirement” home here in beautiful Florida,” said Mark McHugh, President and CEO of Gatorland. “Through our Gatorland Global conservation program, we have helped dozens of alligators just like him through our mission to Protect, Conserve, and Educate.”

According to Rob Carmichael, Curator of the Wildlife Discovery Center, when David was rescued, he was very weak, weighed just 16.3 pounds and was only 52 inches long. He regurgitated pieces of plastic and rubber that he had ingested, he was fighting infections, and his liver was completely shut down. Miraculously, the Center was able to gradually nurse David back to health, but Carmichael decided it was now time for David to come live in alligator paradise at Gatorland.

“Gatorland’s commitment to excellent care and lots of hands-on interaction closely aligns with our philosophies. I can’t think of a better place for David to live out his life,” he said.

Joining David at Gatorland is another Wildlife Discovery Center alligator named Casanova, a 30-year-old American Alligator who was rescued from a drug “crack” house where he spent 20 years crammed in a 40-gallon-tank with no light or heat, and fed one goldfish a month. 

“Casanova also deserves a place like Gatorland to live out his life. These two gators hit the jackpot,” added Carmichael. David and Casanova are among more than 40 alligators and crocodiles that Gatorland has rescued or given new homes to as part of the Gatorland Global Conservation Program. 

Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park combining Old Florida charm with exciting experiences, exhibits, and entertainment. Named Best Non-Theme Park Attraction by the readers of Orlando Magazine in the Best of ORL 2020 Reader Poll and the winner of four awards in Orlando Weekly’s Best of Orlando® 2020 Reader Poll, including Best Place To Show People the Real Orlando, Best Local Big Shot Who’s Not An Elected Official –Gatorland’s Savannah Boan, Best Attraction That’s Not A Theme Park, and Best Zip Line or Ropes Course, Gatorland’s Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. Orlando Weekly Staff Pick also named Gatorland as the Best New Theme Park Attraction this year for its Social Distancing Skunk Ape. 

Originally opened as a roadside attraction in 1949, the park celebrated its 70th Anniversary in 2019. Today, it provides affordably-priced family fun featuring thousands of alligators and crocodiles, breeding marsh with observation tower, free-flight aviary, nature walk, petting zoo, educational wildlife programs, award-winning gift shop, Florida's best train ride, Gator Gully Splash Park, on-site restaurant and one-of-a-kind shows including Gator Jumparoo, Alligators-Legends of the Swamp, and Up-close Encounters. Popular adventure experiences inside the park include the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line and Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure. 

For more Gatorland information, visit us online at or call 800-393-JAWS.