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Posted by retickeeper on May 12, 2003 at 17:36:55:
I have been going to this reptile zoo in myrtle beach once or twice a year for the past few years now and have always been pleased with the condition of the animals and the enclosures they were kept in. All looked very healthy, and the cages were always nice and clean. I always looked forward to visiting this place to check out their large variety of reptiles. This time however, it was a different experience. I spent about 2 hours there on May 9th 03 and this is what happened in that short ammount of time...
When I got there, the first place I went was the snake house which is my favorite place in the zoo. All the snakes seemed happy and healthy like they always have been. After that I was going around to all the crocodilian enclosures when I saw a couple guys that worked there, standing around one of the caiman ponds. I walked over to see what they were doing and they both were carrying ropes, poles, hooks, etc. With all that gear I figured they were going to capture the large caiman that was in the pond, even she wouldn't have required all that equiptment. But they weren't after her. There were several small caimans in there, ranging from 2-3 feet in length and they had one in particular that they were trying to capture. He couldn't have been more then 2 1/2 feet long. This is how they got him...
The one guy looped a rope around the lil crocs neck and pulled it tight so that he could hold on to him. While the other guy shoved a pole in the crocs mouth for him to bite down on. Doing so caused the lil caiman to break several teeth and cut up his mouth pretty bad. The whole time the croc is thrashing back and forth trying to get free and also alerting the large croc to whats going on with the distress call that the baby crocs make. She hears this and comes running up out of the water to try and get the lil caiman from these guys. Both guys looked very surprised to see the big croc doing this and the one started beating her on top of the head with a long pole. This didn't stop her from trying to save the small croc, she grabbed him in her mouth and tried backing down into the water with him, to get him to safety. The rope was still around the baby's neck so the one guy pulled as hard as he could against the large croc and doing so caused her to thrash her head, trying to free the baby from the rope. She tore the baby up pretty bad with her teeth doing this, not meaning to. Finally she won the tug-of-war battle and took the baby out into the small pond. The guys then started wacking her on the head again trying to get her to release the baby. She finally did and they got him out, all tore up and bleeding pretty bad.
That was really upsetting to watch and the whole thing could have been avoided if one of the guys had simply gone in, grabbed the small caiman, and then got back out. After seeing that I knew they didn't have any clue of what they were doing and didn't know a thing about crocs. I was really mad and didn't think to speak to someone there about this. So I just left before I got anymore upset.
On the way out though I saw another guy who worked there looking into a small pond that was there just for decoration, there wasn't supposed to be any animals in it. Just lilly pads and plants and stuff. When I asked what he was looking at he said 'a gator'. So I looked a bit and found what he was talking about, a gator about 2feet long had gotten loose from somewhere and into that small pond. The guy was within arms reach of the gator but was to scared to pick it up. So I thought I would watch and see how they planned on catching it. Another guy came with a fishing pole, baited a large hook with some meat. And tapped the baited hook on the gators snout. When the gator grabbed and swallowed the hook he gave it a jerk to be sure he had the gator hooked, and then pulled him up to the edge, then carried the gator away on the end of the line dangling over the ground like he was a fish or something.
Both events really upset me and made me change my whole outlook on this zoo. That's how they both happened as I witnessed them. None of that was made up, sadly. I would really like to hear your opinions on this and I'd like to get the word around about how their treating their animals. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Take care all,
PS- I would also like hearing about any of your experiences at this zoo if you have been there in the past.