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Dear Roark...

[ Follow Ups ] [ Post Followup ] [ The Alligator and Crocodilian Forum ]

Posted by bigsnakedaddy on May 17, 2003 at 06:56:50:

In Reply to: Dear Roark... posted by retickeeper on May 16, 2003 at 18:53:39:

:"This gator was in a pond on AA's entrance property (outside facility parking lot)."

:Just wanted to note that the gator was in a small pond between the gift shop and Utan's enclosure, not in one of the entrance way ponds.

Dear Mike: Thanks for pointing out. I have removed many from that pond. Different pond but all else same. Hope to see you there sometime. How did you like animal planet pics of Utan and I?

:::Thank you for taking the time to explain the situation. While I understand and agree with some of what was written, the following statement from you troubles me greatly.

:::[The gator incident while poorly thought out (to some) is not a tragedy. This method of capture happens many, many times daily by state/international wildlife authorities as a non lethal means of capture (hook & line). ]

:::I can understand why such a method is used on animals in the wild but how does a centre that cares for animals justify using such methods? Aren't there any more humane methods that to hook a gator?

::There are many methods employed to capture/remove/relocate crocodilians. From grabbing, tackling, restraint with ropes and poles, and hooking. All are acceptable methods dependent on many factors. These factors are primarily size of crocodilian, time constraints, capture team experience, location/terrain, crocodilian disposition, and degree of threat/danger to public. Alligator Adventure was built on property adjacent to several natural waterways. Over 1,000 alligators (slated for slaughter to become gator bites and leather) were rescued from a private FL gator farm and brought to myrtle beach nearly 8 years ago.

:: First let me note that habituated alligators are much more dangerous than wild ones because they no longer fear man. Native alligators from 2 to 9 feet show up at inappropriate times outside the park trying to get in. Sometimes aggressive, sometimes elusive, they must be dealt with immediately. If not injury to tourists would result in immediate death sentence for said gator. They tie up traffic, cause accidents, keep people from gaining entrance to their vehicles. They block boardwalks and entranceways between the park and shopping centers.

:: This gator was in a pond on AA's entrance property (outside facility parking lot). Wild gators from golf courses and surrounding waterways think AA is gator heaven. Public perception is that the gators must belong to the park. If your neighbors know you keep snakes and a native specimen shows up in their backyard a natural assumption is that it may/must have escaped from your collection... Again Myrtle beach is a tourist hotspot and public safety is everything.....

:: Now let's examine hooking. Consider the amount of pressure exerted by gators on their counterparts during feeding, mating, territorial disputes, etc. They are practically impervious to everything. Dangling a small piece of meet on a hook in front of a two ft gator usually results in an immediate clamp down. Anyone who has worked with crocodilians on some level is aware of this. You would have to be literally unconscious or a complete bufoon (out of your realm) to have it swallowed. It's called catch and release. Catch and release is considered humane when fishing.

:: Crocs are tougher than bass or turtles. Turtles and bass are fished for in a conventional sense allowing time to swallow the bait and sometimes run with it. Gator was not fished for. Size of hook plays part as well. Barbless hooks are used by many. Again it's all about technique. Some have it. Some don't. Much time was spent trying to conventionally rope this very elusive gator. Under the circumstances this was the most efficient method. The gator that was hooked was none the worse for the experience... You've no doubt heard the term "GATOR TOUGH". They've been around for a long, long time. Alligator Adventure cares deeply for its animals and patrons. They respond to many gator calls just outside gates of property. They assist DNR whenever possible. They protect and educate the public and prevent the destruction of native alligators. Nuisance alligators are seldom relocated. They are almost always destroyed. I am a member of the State Animal Advisory Review Bord. I have raised Crocs for more than 30 years. I have visited croc farms worldwide and every gator farm on the east coast of this great country. While none are perfect they all make great contributions to crocodilian conservation. AA is right up there with the best. Thanks for inquiry. BSD!
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:::P/S - Not to be personal but you could at least structure your sentences in paragraphs. Reading them is really a pain and I'm sure the others here share my view.

:::: At Alligator Adventure "Reptile Capital of the World" is not just a slogan. It's a mindset. A way of living. My name is Roark Ferguson, the former Zoological Director of the Park. I have had the priviledge of being involved with the park on some level since it opened nearly eight years ago. I maintain a serpentarium of nearly 1,100 snakes and many crocodiles. I loan animals to worthy institutions, AA being one of them. Alligator Adventure's comittment to Crocodilian conservation is unparalleled as evidence by their high regard by the Crocodile Advisory Group and Crocodile Specialist Group. Their involvement extends way beyond the extraordinary financial support given. They host meetings for both groups and fund special projects as well on a national/international level. As such they are scrutinized on every level as are their personnel/procedures. They have a remarkable track record breeding crocodilians. They have an unparalleled safety record as well. For the most part the animal staff personnel at AA are highly motivated, adequately trained, dedicated, sincere individuals. The jobs they perform are not casual and fraught with peril. Even with the best of training/planning the unexpected can and will happen. Training is constant and never ceases. It's called experience. It comes on the job. It is never their intention to purposely hurt an animal. However, that being said it is obvious that a well intentioned caimen relocation did not go exactly as planned. Of course they've done it a million times with different results. That's called precedent. History. And based on that they had no reason to expect otherwise. But gremlins happen. Get use to it. Rather than condemn I wish the expert who was visiting would have offered counsel/advice to prevent it. LOL These things happen. I have been to croc parks all over the world. People who don't work in them always think they know better. It never ceases to amaze me the number of marginally experienced people who report on forums (many non professionals) thinking their opinions are absolute). First there were no babies/hatchlings in the pool. Two footers are subadults to say the least. There were no distress calls from mother to non existent hatchlings. Eggs are gathered each season, incubated indoors, hatched, and offspring set up in their own pens in the hospital bldg. Whether the attack (one caimen on another) was due to territoriality or a feeding response or possibly a stress induced attack on a smaller caimen cannot be fully ascertained. It definitely was not a protective gesture for another croc as suggested in initial report. Crocodilians often lose teeth eating turtles, struggling with prey, each other, mating, fighting, and biting objects that float into their territory, etc. That's why so many teeth over a lifetime. I'm not here to condone or condemn. People are not affected by events. They're affected by their opinion of events. The gator incident while poorly thought out (to some) is not a tragedy. This method of capture happens many, many times daily by state/international wildlife authorities as a non lethal means of capture (hook & line). I have also seen this method utilized at many croc alligator attractions without incident/harm to crocodilians. What really irritates me is the fact that the reporting/concerned individual did not report it while at the park to management. The visitor later decided to report on a public forum without gathering/examining all the facts first. Every major zoo, aquarium, and exhibit gets complaints on some level each and every year. Usually these complaints are sincere, but sincerely wrong. I am not saying that this is always the case. But 99 out of a hundred times it is. You wouldn't believe how many cases of animal cruelty I have personally investigated only to find motivated eco terrorists groups behind them. These disgusting groups such as PETA, API, and the like stop at nothing to press their skewed agenda. I am not suggesting this is the case in this instance. I notified the owner of the park this morning. Of course he was completely unaware of this incident when it occured (as were all park management personnel) because the person reporting on this forum didn't feel it was necessary/ didn't bother to report it to the proper governing body (park management) at the time. That was the time to voice an opinion. Asking questions may have enlightened all involved . Answers to those questions may have left the visitor with a different opinion. A few days later the visitor decided it was now important enough to make public. It's a shame because the visitor had always loved the park. I invite the visitor to rexamine this incident in the light objectivity if he can. Remember, this is one isolated incident. Not a tragedy. Not horrifying. Perhaps unfortunate. In the visitor's opinion this may not have been their best moment. But they have had many great moments and will have many, many more. I love that park and if you visit I believe you will as well. BigSnakeDaddy!
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