Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ripley's Last Chance

Editors Note: Readers first learned about Ripley on April 19th when we posted the story on our blog, http://sanpedrosun.blogspot.com/2010/04/tortured-and-left-for-dead-aces-rescues.html, and the article was then published in our April 22nd issue (Vol.20-16). Held captive, tortured, shot and left for dead on the shore of the Corozal Bay, ACES came to the croc’s rescue. The injured croc has won over the hearts of many and several of our readers have inquired about his progress. Although Ripley’s fate is still unknown we are happy to share the following update from ACES.

Submitted by Cherie Chenot-Rose, marine biologist, ACES - Today, May 4th, Ripley was given his last chance at life at ACES/ American Crocodile Education Sanctuary. Ripley was rescued on April 15th by ACES from his three weeks of lock and chains in Corozal Bay. With the severity of the injuries inflicted during his illegal captivity, no one really expected Ripley to survive the long trip to ACES near Punta Gorda Town, let alone persevere this long. “It is Ripley’s strong will and apparent endurance that even led us to give him a chance,” states Biologist Cherie Rose, “ordinarily an animal abused this severely would be put down; but there’s something in Ripley and you can just see his determination to live.”

This morning, Behaviorist Vince Rose caught Ripley and force fed him for the third and final time. Scientific measurements were taken and a complete health update assessment was completed. Although Ripley is still not out of the woods, some of his injuries showed signs of healing and no visible infections were found. It is Ripley’s behavior that has deemed him one more opportunity to feed on his own. He reacts to the approach of humans and shows some signs of recovery despite his critical injuries. So, this morning Ripley was moved from the holding pen, where all crocs arriving at ACES are first placed for assessment, and released into a half acre containment area at ACES and swam freely for the first time since he was illegally caught in Corozal over a month ago.
Ripley is force fed for the third time before being released into his new holding facility. After a close exaimination the ACES team determines that Ripely is healthy enough to be moved to his new home.
Measuring at 9 ft 3 in, Ripley is a freshwater Morelet’s Crocodile and protected by the Belize Wildlife Protection Act (Chapter 220). ACES is a permitted facility in southern Belize which has rescued over 40 crocs now country-wide. As a species, Morelet’s are considered vulnerable to extinction throughout their entire range.
Now swimming freely in his new habitat, Ripley is still fighting for his life. ACES’s Biologists believe that the increased activity of swimming and social interaction with other rescued crocs in the facility, all of which are much smaller than Ripley, may stimulate an increase in appetite and entice him to start feeding on his own. “We will observe his behavior for the next few weeks, and if there is not an increase in his daily activities and feeding behaviors, we will still be forced to put him down in the name of humanity,” states Vince.

What is truly amazing is that even though Ripley is totally blind, shortly after he was released into his new habitat, he actually came back out of the water and returned to the gate which he was brought in through, searching for a way out. Cherie would like to say, “There’s a lot of people praying for Ripley and ACES would like to thank all those who have supported and assisted both directly and indirectly with the rescue efforts including the BFD, the Corozal Police Dept., and The San Pedro Sun. My only regret is that ACES is not better equipped to handle such extensive wounds such as the gunshot injury Ripley suffers from. Hopefully in time, with the help of donors, sponsors and grants, ACES will be able to turn an already existing 20 x 15 storage shed into a laboratory fully equipped with proper medical supplies to handle severely injured crocodiles and other wildlife. It is only by working together that we can preserve Belize’s wildlife for future generations.”
For more information about ACES and how you can donate to their facility please visit their website at http://www.americancrocodilesanctuary.org/.

Photos submitted by ACES

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

WHEN WE FOUND CROCY A.K.A "RIPLEY" HE WAS IN THE WATER WHERE KIDS WERE SWIMMING AND WE CALLED BELIZE WILDLIFE ASSOCIATION AND THEY SAID THEY WOULD CONTACT PERSONNEL FROM PUNTA GORDA TO SEE INTO THE MATTER. NOT WANTING TO RELEASE IT FOR FEAR THAT OTHERS WOULD KILL IT WE KEPT IT LOCKED AND FED. IT WAS ALREADY INJURED AND APPARENTLY BLIND. WE DID NOT TORTURE IT IN ANY WAY OTHER THAN TO KEPT IT ALIVE UNTIL THE PROPER PERSONS CAME FOR HIM. WE DO NOT APPRECIATED ALL THAT HAS BEEN INSINUATED IN YOUR ARTICLE ABOUT THE TREATMENT OF THIS ANIMAL. SO MANY PEOPLE WANTED TO BUY HIM FROM US FOR THEIR OWN SELFISH AMUSEMENT. SO YOU ARE WELCOME! THANKS TO US FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO KNOW HIM AND CARE FOR HIM WHEN WE COULD HAVE DONE WHAT WAS INITIALLY RECOMMENDED AND KILL HIM. HIM WE NAMED CROCY.

Cherie said...

In response to the Anonymous comment, ACES was never contacted about the crocodile, but heard about it on the radio. ACES next contacted the Belize Forest Department and they said that the person(s) holding the crocodile were told by them, "to release the croc and it would move away as long as noone was feeding it." Never were they told by authorities to kill it. In Belize it is illegally to capture or feed any croc without a permit under the Belize Wildlife Protection Act (Chapter 220). Next, ACES called the place where the croc was being held to confirm that it had been released. It had not. The person ACES talked to on the phone informed ACES that they wanted money before they would release the croc to pay for the cost of feeding what they called "their pet." So, ACES contacted the BFD and set out for Corozal. Upon reaching Corozal ACES with BFD and the San Pedro Sun went to the local police. A Corozal Officer escorted us to the site of the captive croc. Nowhere have I read in any articles anything that points a finger as to who actually tortured the crocodile, but it is the worst case of animal abuse that I have ever witnessed and the wounds suffered could have only been inflicted by humans. Period. When ACES requested the key to unlock the poor animal, no one there was able to find it; hence, Vince had to beat the lock off of the chained croc. And again, the person present at the time of the rescue wanted money for food that was supposedly fed the starving and severely dehydrated reptile. As the BFD pointed out again, they were told to release the animal and never should have kept it nor feed it. The truth is the croc was a freshwater Morelet's Croc and would not have stayed in the waterfront location where they caught it. This species of crocodile cannot excrete salt from it's body and needs to be in 100% freshwater to survive. Sorry but, illegally capturing, holding, feeding, and trying to get money for a protected species does not make any one a hero, but a criminal in my eyes.
Today, Ripley is swimming freely in a 1/2 acre freshwater, contained, natural habitat with other crocs of his own species. It has yet to be visually confirmed that Ripley is eating on his own; but, his weight and strength are currently fine and he shows no signs of infection. He was named Ripley for two reasons: Funding from Mr. Ripley Comegys financed his rescue; and, just like the sci-fi 'Ripley' from the movie 'Aliens,' he seems to be able to fight his way through anything to survive. Anyone needing assistance with an injured or problematic crocodile please call ACES at 665-CROC (2762).

Anonymous said...

This was posted on the Belize Forums. Sounds like someone doth protest too much.

"I visited this Haileys establishment in April and witnessed the most horrible case of animal cruelty ever. They had a crocodile chained up to a tree and were torturing it and charging $5 dollars to watch or to torture it. Check it out on these links. By the photos you can see where it is.
http://sanpedrosun.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/tortured-and-left-for-dead-aces-rescues-corozal-croc/

http://ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthread...html#Post374156

http://ambergriscaye.com/forum/ubbthread...html#Post376245

When confronting the owners a tall slim young man and his wife they verbally attacked us and pretty much kicked us out. We were reminded that we were in Belize and not the USA. They informed us that they rule Corozal and can do as they please. I also think Everyone Should Boycot This Business."
http://www.belizeforum.com/belize/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=176258#Post176258

Wildlife Officer said...

I am a Wildlife Officer at the Belize Forest Department and the call was made to me by the owner of Hailey’s Beach. According to the owner the crocodile was seen swimming in the water in front of the establishment and was caught because he was afraid that the crocodile would be a threat to people swimming in the area over the easter holiday. Because of the lack of transportation at the time (around 4:30pm) the call was made to the office, Mr. Kuylen was informed that we would not be able to respond to the report until the following week. He then asked what he should do with the crocodile and I informed him to release it. I informed him that the crocodile was moving through the area and would most likely disappear after a short time. Because he was uncomfortable with the crocodile being released back in front of his establishment our phone conversation ended with an understanding that he would release the animal in a lake on the other side of town. I also informed him that if it was an American crocodile it would find its way back eventually and that there was really no need to remove the animal from its habitat unless it proved to be a threat to people (which it didn’t). I would like to say officially that the Belize Forest Department did not authorize anyone from Hailey’s Beach to keep and feed the crocodile as it is an offense under the Wildlife Protection Act of Belize to do so. The Wildlife Program recognized that our late response to the report contributed to the situation and that is why Mr. Kuylen was not charged for holding the crocodile. However, if during that time, the animal was abused and mistreated please make a report to myself or Mr. Andre Lopez at the Belize Forest Department and we will investigate. Our numbers are 822-1524 or 822-2079.