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A man touches the nose of an alligator.
Jay Young interacts with Morris, the American alligator performed in "Happy Gilmore" Hollywood movie, at the Colorado Reptile Park in November 2021 in Mosca.

Many animals at Colorado Gators, an animal rescue in Alamosa County, died in a predawn fire Tuesday.

Most of the snakes, lizards, tortoises, parrots and cats died in a fire that broke out in the reptile barn about 4:30 a.m., the Mosca rescue said in a Facebook post. No people were injured and the alligators and crocodiles outside the building, as well as the turtles, fish and sharks, are unharmed.

“Tragedy has struck Colorado Gators,” the post said.

No foul play is suspected, but the fire department is investigating the cause of the fire, the rescue said. Firefighters with the Mosca-Hooper fire department rescued three dwarf caiman and several turtles and tortoises.

“We are devastated. But there is positive to focus on,” park administrators wrote on Facebook. “And we have hundreds of animals that are healthy that we still need to take care of.  Prayers are appreciated. We will get through this. Can’t change it we just have to deal with it and go on.” 

The animal rescue, which began as a garbage disposal for a fish farming operation, attracts tourists to the San Luis Valley looking for close-up encounters with gators, snakes and other reptiles. It lures about 40,000 visitors a year to one of the nation’s only alligator refuges outside of the South and Texas. 

Damage to the park is “extensive” and cleanup will take a long time, the rescue said, but “we will go on.”

Olivia Prentzel

Olivia Prentzel is a general assignment writer for The Colorado Sun. Email: oliviaprentzel@coloradosun.com