George & Debbie: What Happens When You Feed Crocs
Meet George and Debbie, two American Crocodiles rescued by ACES in the summer of 2008.
Both crocs were the victims of being fed illegally by humans as a tourist attraction on Ambergris Caye. Because of their size and conditioned, lack of fear for humans, these magnificent wild creatures remain in captivity with death being their only alternative. Crocs such as these cannot be re-released into the wild for they are now a threat to humans where ever they are; in addition, crocodiles are known to travel hundreds of miles and even cross land to return to their home. This photo was taken at ACES where the crocs seem at home.
George is a 15 ft, wild, male crocodile, who was so used to being fed by humans that he would take food from anyone who had it. Wildlife Behaviorist and Crocodile wrangler, Vince Rose, placed a lasso around George's upper snout.
With the other end of the rope tied to a golf cart, myself and a local volunteer helped secure George who weighed over 600 lbs.
Not only was George obese from a daily diet of non-nutritional, thawed, frozen chicken, but at one time his tail had obviously been cut by a machete. The 'nubbin' that was hanging by just the bone, showed signs of the onset of gangrene and was amputated by Vince at the time of George's release at ACES. Antibiotics were applied and today the tail has healed nicely.
George was wrapped up in a net like a burrito and rolled onto a piece of plywood which was lifted by eight men onto the back of a flatbed truck. The huge reptile was driven to a nearby dock and load into a Belizean skiff for transport to the mainland in Belize City. From there, George was unloaded by ten men at Captain Dukes Marina and placed into a large PVC tube on the back of a next flatbed truck for the long voyage to ACES in southern Belize.
Still inside the PVC tube, George was pulled by four men to his new safe haven at ACES/ American Crocodile Education Sanctuary. Freed of his ropes and finally released after the two day trek, George found an old friend he never expected to find here.
Although George was relocated to ACES three months after Debbie, she swam right up to him and greeted George with crocodile recognition behaviors. Truly the only facility of its kind, ACES's containment areas are fed by the Rio Grande River. Twice a day the tide brings fresh water, fish, shrimp, and crabs into the pens for the crocs. As well, prey birds and small mammals can enter, allowing the crocs to feed as they would in the wild.
Debbie with a friendly egret at ACES. George just hanging out at ACES.