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Newport Aquarium's giant alligator Mighty Mike will leave for Florida after summer

Posted: 9:33 AM, Jul 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-09 13:33:05Z

NEWPORT, Ky. -- Like a snowbird fleeing winter, the time has nearly come for Mighty Mike to head south again.

Mike, a 14-foot, 800-pound American alligator, has been living at the Newport Aquarium for the past five years.

He's the largest of his kind living outside the Sunshine State.

Alligators are like living dinosaurs: They've been around for 250 million years, with some extinct crocodilian species growing to more than twice Mike's size.

"Getting the public to understand and appreciate these animals has been a critical factor in helping the American alligator achieve sustainable populations after being listed as endangered for decades," Eric Rose, the aquarium's executive director, said in a statement.

Mighty Mike will return to Florida's Crocodilian Conservation Center, where he'll continue being an ambassador for the conservation of wetlands ecosystems.

Mike's last day on public display here will be Sept. 9. Until then, there's a banner in Alligator Alley for guests to leave him a goodbye note.

The aquarium has extended hours during the summer, open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Sept. 2.

For a limited time, the aquarium is offering one free child admission with each full price adult. The offer is available only on the aquarium website , and it's valid Sundays through Fridays after 4 p.m.