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There is a new face at the San Francisco Zoo and he is indeed one lucky Alligator. Named after one of the jazzy legends of New Orleans, Miles is a young American Alligator that was rescued in the thick grasses of East New Orleans. He now joins the Zoo family and will become an important ambassador in many of the Zoo’s education programs.

Photo credits: San Francisco Zoo

Miles was found on the grounds of a school and was rescued by an individual who was mowing the lawn on a ride-on mower. The individual saw something moving in the grass and stopped to find out what was causing the stir. To his surprise, it was a tiny Alligator. Miles was brought to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, but it was too late for him to be released back into the wild with another group of young Alligators. The San Francisco Zoo had an older alligator that was ready to return to the wild, which allowed the Zoo to provide a home for this rescued gator. This was the perfect scenario for young Miles, and Zoo staff anticipate he’ll be on exhibit sometime next week at the Koret Animal Resource Center.

It is estimated that Miles was an extremely late September hatch, which makes him approximately six months old. The Zoo will care for Miles over the next three to four years and he will then return to the Audubon Zoo, where he will learn to eat and hunt on his own in a transition pond. Once he’s honed those skills, he will be released back into the wild.

American alligators are found in the wetland areas of the Southeastern United States. They can remain underwater for extremely long periods of time when they are not hunting or swimming. Small bumps around their jaws act as tiny motion detectors. Their lifespan in the wild is up to 50 years old. In a zoo or aquarium setting it’s been recorded up to 56.