August 20, 2002 at 9:17 PM CDT - Updated July 12 at 4:25 AM
It's an opportunity which comes around only once a year -- the chance to bring a baby alligator into the world! You've probably never seen an alligator like the ones at this alligator ranch before. Most folks haven't -- only a few seconds old, right out of the egg.
Two dozen people of all ages are gathered around two metal tables. John Price of Insta-Gator Alligator Ranch hands out eggs. The chirping of baby 'gators can be heard from within the eggs. Squeals and exclamations of delight can be heard as the "civilian" alligator ranchers coax the hatchlings out of their shells.
"See how they wobble, too?"
"Come on, sweetheart!"
Kasey Montabano, a school girl from Mandeville, says she has never seen anything like this. She's clearly excited, but says the birthing experience was "Nasty!"
For just a few days each year the Insta-Gator tour offers the chance to be a midwife.
"How did it make you feel?" I ask 9-year-old Dianne Yingst of Slidell.
"What are you going to tell the kids when you get back to school?"
"I'm going to show off! Not many people in Slidell -- not many of my friends got to hold a baby alligator."
Jim Latiolais is the grandfather of one of the kids here. But he grins like 10-year-old as he coaxes his baby alligator from the egg. "Come on, guy! That's pretty unreal. That is neat, that is fine! You're never too old to learn something."
It's a day these new moms and dads will never forget. But it's a sure thing that the new kids will forget to call on Mothers Day!
The folks at the 'gator ranch stress that they are at the mercy of Mother Nature. If you want to hatch an alligator, you have to call ahead to reserve an egg.
Their toll free number is 888-448-1560. The ranch is northeast of Covington. They can supply directions.
Reserve an egg = $24.99 weekends
Tour only = $10 - kids $7
The season lasts only a few days, so you have to hurry.