Underneath the surface of the cold, murky water, nine alligators hibernate until springtime when warmer weather will bring them to the surface.

The alligators, which range in size from 6 feet to 12 feet long, were brought in this past September to Diamond Don’s RV Park in Jefferson, Texas, where train passengers and school children will have the opportunity to see and learn more about them, the Marshall Messenger reported.

The 30,000-foot enclosure was approved by a game warden from Texas Parks & Wildlife, said Don’s wife, Francene Rainey, after Don Rainey himself cemented and enclosed the area with strong fencing.

The alligators came from Captain Ron Gibbs, a friend of the Raineys who recently retired from the alligator farming business in Uncertain.

“I wanted it to be very nice and very safe,” Don said. “For the alligators, too.”

The American alligator was once endangered but is now thriving. State and federal protections, habitat preservation efforts, and reduced demand for alligator products have improved the species’ wild population to more than one million and growing today, according to National Geographic.

The enclosure, which the Rainey’s fondly call the “Gator Pit,” is about 3 1/2 miles out on the train tracks that carry along a steam engine train used for various events at the Jefferson Historic Railway. It runs through the RV park.

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