14-foot-long alligator named 'Mighty Mike' returning to Tampa Bay area this fall

Mike will live at Crocodilian Conservation Center

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 called Kentucky's Newport Aquarium home for the past five years.

He is the largest of his kind living outside the Sunshine State.

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Alligators are like living dinosaurs: They have 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 in Frostproof, where he will continue being an ambassador for the conservation of wetlands ecosystems.

Mike's last day on public display at the Newport Aquarium will be September 9.

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