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Ripley the Morelet’s Crocodile Euthanized June 1, 2010

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Press Release – American Crocodile Education Sanctuary – June 1, 2010 – A bright new bird chirping morning it is in the jungle here in Punta Gorda, but a very sad one too. Ripley, the tortured Morelet’s Crocodile the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES) and the Belize Forest Department rescued from Corozal in April, will have to be euthanized today.

    The stress Ripley endured, along with the severity of his injuries has caused him to contract septicemia. Ripley is now suffering and death is inevitable. ACES takes condolence in knowing that at least Ripley got to spend his last few weeks swimming around and interacting with other crocs, as opposed to dying chained to a tree in the surf of the Corozal Bay as a spectacle. Although he is very sick, he still kept his individual croc personality. Few got to see him, and those that did felt his anguish and prayed he’d recover. One could look beyond Ripley’s ’empty eyes’ and actually see the life he so effortlessly tried to cling onto, making one feel the need inside them to be alive.

    The question we here at ACES now have to ask ourselves, are we holding onto him for his benefit of survival or for our indefinable reasons of selfishness? It is time to say goodbye to one of Gods dearest creatures and we hope and pray that his strength to survive can teach the people of Belize how fortunate they are to have this magnificent species in their waters and to take pride in all the wildlife that is found here; for each species, however minute or dangerous, plays a vital role in their very existence by keeping Belize’s precious environment in balance.

    ACES asks that everyone who reads this, no matter what country you live in, take a moment today to stop and take in this amazing World we live in; and how just like Ripley, no matter what bad we do to it as humans, it struggles to survive to keep us alive. And remember, that if we don’t start changing our behaviors collectively to treat it with more pride, someday, it too will no longer exist.

    As a result, and due to being unequipped to properly tend to the severity of Ripley’s injuries, combined with the exhausting search of relatively minimal funding available for crocodiles (which I attribute to their lack of fur), ACES is willing to try to start a modern facility in Punta Gorda to treat wildlife and local pets, a HUMANE Society. ACES owners will give the use of a personally owned concrete building in PG Town toward the cause if we can get enough supports to make this facility come true. If humanity to animals is the lesson of this story, let’s start with all the neglected pets due to poverty and lack of availability of assistance and materials. And once such a facility is in place, someday it may also save the life a wild croc, or a wild fox like Foxie. 

    Thank you, with all our aching hearts at ACES, to all of you who assisted with Ripley’s rescue, the rescues of all the crocs here at ACES, and all of you who support and have assisted directly and indirectly with ACES’s Croc-Crusade. 

Rest in peace our dear friend, Ripley. 

http://www.americancrocodilesanctuary.org

Other stories about Ripley can be found at:

http://sanpedrosun.blogspot.com/2010/04/tortured-and-left-for-dead-aces-rescues.html

http://sanpedrosun.blogspot.com/2010/05/ripleys-last-chance.html

Ripley’s Last Chance May 8, 2010

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Ripley was found chained and tortured on the beach at Corozal Bay.

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 a third time before the big move.

Ripley receives a close health inspection before being released into his new habitat.

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.

Ripley is released into his new home with hopes that once he gets more exercise swimming and interacting with other crocs he will regain his appetite.

Off and swimming!

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.

Even though he is blind (from human torture), and possibly deaf in one ear from the bullet wound he is recovering from, crocs have exceptional hearing and sense of smell and possess integumentary sense organs (ISOs) sensory cells in the outer layer of their skin that allows them to detect environmental changes and underwater proximities.

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 www.americancrocodilesanctuary.org.

Photos submitted by ACES

Tortured and Left for Dead, ACES Rescues Corozal Croc April 19, 2010

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    Last Thursday, April 15th, the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES) team, biologist Cherie Chenot-Rose and animal behaviorist Vince Rose, traveled from Punta Gorda to Corozal Town to rescue a captured crocodile. Traversing the entire length of the country in six hours, and stopping in Belmopan to pick up Wildlife Officer Rasheda Sampson of the Belize Forest Department they arrived at the scene of a brutal case of animal abuse.
    The croc, which had been in captivity for an estimated three weeks, was literally chained and locked to a nearby coconut tree where it lay in the surf of the Corozal Bay. Surrounded in seaweed and garbage, and eaten by sand fleas, the creature had been tormented for weeks by onlookers who managed to poke both its eyes out, shoot it in the head, pull out most of its teeth and was left to slowly die. Close to starvation and dehydrated from the lack of fresh water the animal demonstrated little resistance when the team proceed with their rescue. With no key to unlock the chained creature, measures were taken to break open the lock. On initial examination it was confirmed that the male croc was a freshwater Morelet’s Crocodile. It was speculated that it came from one of the two nearby rivers that empty into the bay. The animal was most likely looking for food in the bay area when it was captured and because it is essentially a fresh water animal the salinity of the bay water was an added hardship for the animal to endure while held captive on the beach.
    Once the croc was contained it was loaded into a large PVC culvert which was secured onto the flatbed of the ACES truck. The animal was then hosed down with fresh water to assure its comfort while traveling. Although it was uncertain if the animal would survive the drive back to Punta Gorda the ACES team decided, based on the survival stamina of crocodiles in general, that it was worth a try.
    Close to seven hours later they arrived in the dark to the ACES compound in Punta Gorda where the croc was unloaded into a solitary holding pen. Although blind and dazed the animal quickly moved into the fresh water pool where a chicken meal, fortified with vitamins and minerals was left in hopes that he would eat.
    On Friday the croc did not visibly show increased signs of stress but his injuries (especially the exit wound from where he was shot) continued to fester. With the chicken meal untouched, it was decided that if he did not eat in the next 24 hours they would have to resort to force feeding the animal.
    Unfortunately he did not eat and on Saturday morning the team contained the animal and inserted a large PVC tube into his mouth where they were able to shove pieces of chicken down the crocs throat. Hoping that once the croc had a meal he would find new strength to survive the plan is to wait until today and force feed him again. Based on research from previous rescues of injured crocs the ACES team has found that after a couple of forced meals the animal usually starts to eat again. If this croc, which was named Ripley after a recent donor to the ACES facility, does not start eating after the forced-feeding regiment the team, with permission from the Belize Forest Department,  may decide to euthanize the animal.
    Although injured beyond any possibility of wild relocation, the ACES team hopes that if Ripley can return to good health he can live out his life serving his species as a means of educating the public about the horrors of animal abuse as well as crocodilian conservation.
    Two species of crocodiles reside in Belize, the American Crocodile and Morelet’s, and both are currently listed as endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act and are also considered threatened by the Coastal Zone Management Program, Department of Fisheries, and the Government of Belize due to a number of threats.
   The San Pedro Sun will continue to report on Ripley’s status and you can read more about this story in Thursday’s issue. For more information about ACES please visit their website at www.americancrocodilesanctuary.org

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Problem Crocs removed from Ambergris Caye January 17, 2010

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For more information about ACES/American Crocodile Education Sanctuary please visit their website at www.americancrocodilesanctuary.org