Paignton Zoo's Crocodile Swamp is Swaping Out Some Crocodiles
By Philip Knowling
Paignton, UK - It’s all change down at Paignton Zoo’s Crocodile Swamp. Crocodiles are moving in and moving out – but the tooth-count will remain as high as ever!
Two rare Philippine crocodiles have come to Paignton Zoo from Chester Zoo. Meanwhile, Paignton’s female Nile crocodile is moving to Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent.
The Philippine crocodiles are called Mork and Mindy. Both are 13 years old - Mork was born on 25th July 1998 and Mindy on 23rd August 1998. They have been at Chester Zoo for almost four years, but have now taken up residence in Crocodile Swamp.
Mike Bungard, Paignton Zoo’s Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates, explained: “Animals are moved if it is the best thing for that individual or for the species. As you can imagine, moving crocodiles can be a tricky business!”
So exactly how do you move a crocodile? Mike: “You have to catch them up safely and carefully and get them into a travelling crate in which they can’t move too much so that they can’t hurt themselves. The snout is taped during transit for the same reason. The crate has to be very strong. For the Nile, we left the crate in the enclosure and waited for her to go in. She is too dangerous to catch up by hand.”
No paperwork is needed to move the Philippines crocodiles within the UK, as both Paignton Zoo and Chester have Article 60 CITES approval, which allows a collection to exhibit a CITES 1 listed species. But there is a complication. Mike: “We needed permission from the Philippines government to move them because all Philippines crocodiles are owned by the Philippines government.”
The Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) is one of the most severely threatened species of crocodile – it is listed as Critically Endangered because of exploitation and unsustainable fishing methods such as dynamite fishing. There are thought to be fewer than 250 left in the wild.
It grows to no more than 3 metres in length, although this seems quite long enough, especially when you consider their aggressive nature and their 66 teeth. Mike: “They can be very belligerent, so even though they know each other, putting them together could be tricky.”
Once the moves have been made, Crocodile Swamp will be home to four crocodiles of three species, with the two Philippine crocodiles, one pure bred female Cuban crocodile and a female saltwater crocodile.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 0844 474 2222.
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