The Calusa Herpetological Society
Of Southwest Florida
January 2, 2014 - 7:00 pm
Tonight's speaker is
The title of her presentation is "The
Orinoco Crocodile Caper -- A Story of Tenacity and Teamwork".
currently the General Curator and Grants Coordinator at the Gladys Porter
Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. She had a passion for reptiles long before
the 1976 commencement of her zoo career, when she began working in the
Reptile Department as a keeper. Though her titles have changed and
administrative duties have increased over the years, she remains the primary
caretaker of several groups of crocodiles at her zoo.
Colette is a member
of the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group and the Philippine
Crocodile National Recovery Team. She is also an avid fundraiser for various
species of endangered crocodiles.
In May of 2011, when Karel Fortyn passed
away unexpectedly, he left behind hundreds of reptiles at the Seaway Serpentarium in
Welland, Ontario. As his brother, friends, colleagues, ex-girlfriend,
attorneys and the local animal control authority struggled, then haggled, over
what needed to be done with the animals in his collection, it became apparent
that the destiny of Blade and Suede, two enormous Orinoco crocodiles, would be
the biggest issue of all.
Smuggled into Canada in
1987 as hatchlings, and now reported to be 1,500 and 1,100 pounds, Blade and
Suede were Karel's pride and joy. However, they had long since outgrown
their failing indoor enclosure of concrete and bulletproof glass. Many months
passed, a freezing winter approached, and the struggle over their destiny
continued. These genetically precious animals faced potential power outages,
getting their heads caught underwater in rusted fencing, and the possibility
that one would kill the other if their partition failed. The city vowed the
house they had lived in for over a decade would be demolished, while wildlife
authorities on both sides of the US/Canada border dealt with the reality that
there was no Canadian facility that could adequately care for them.
Enter the staff from the
Gladys Porter Zoo, a colorful mixture of unsinkable Texas folks, who believed
that "impossible" meant "fun." Add two Florida-based
crocodile experts and a team of enthusiastic crocodile men from Canada, and
you have yourself an adventure!
This is a story of a 4,000
mile road trip and how two beautiful Orinoco crocodiles came to see sunlight
in South Texas for the first time . . . even though wildlife authorities
had once predicted it would never happen.
WHO'S INVITED ? You are! Anyone with an interest in any
aspect of herpetology or herpetoculture is welcome to attend, learn, and
exchange their experiences with our friendly membership. Come out to meet
others who keep, breed or study reptiles and amphibians, and let them share
their fascination with you. We average 20 – 35 people attending every
Cookies and cold soda, a nightly raffle of live
herps, herp products, and books follow each speaker's talk, and lots of herp
camaraderie, gossip, and fun can be counted upon at all meetings !
For more info , call (239) 728-2390 or (239)
481-3525 or EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org