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Ripley’s Last Chance May 8, 2010

Posted by San Pedro Sun in Uncategorized.
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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

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