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Rose Glows!

altA beautiful new-arrival to the zoo, is “Rose”, a baby American croc.  Her story is a bit of a giggle, but are we ever glad she is with us. A crocodile egg was given to a Forest Department official months ago, as an “education resource”.  The egg was thought to be infertile.   But surprise!   A short time after the egg was handed over, out came a baby croc.   Not knowing how to really care for the babe, “Rose” was handed over to croc-loving Tony Garel at the Zoo.

At the zoo, she immediately had lots admirers.  We fell in love with her.  It was decided that a good amount of “croc care” and training should come her way, so that she would retain a love for her human caretakers, and become a very fine Ambassador for her species.   Crocodiles are often persecuted, and most of the time, negative attitudes towards these handsome reptiles, are due to a lack of knowledge and understanding.

These prehistoric-looking reptiles can be found in mangroves, brackish water, and are fond of lagoons, too.  They will often make their way up rivers, leaving their salt-water home behind.  What is on the menu for a croc?  Baby “Rose” loves to chomp down on cockroaches and crickets.  In the wild, they eat insects and little fish.   As they grow, they will dine on turtles and larger fish and also birds.  If they can snatch a small mammal, that works, too!

Mama croc will build a nest, and eighty days later, the eggs will crack open and out will poke a baby croc.   If the nesting temperatures are on the consistently warm side, female crocs emerge.  Cooler temperatures produce males.   After hatching, the Mama croc will then gently take each baby and carefully place in the water.  She will guard over them.  Crocodiles are very protective and caring towards their young.  This type of maternal-care behavior is usually associated with mammal species.  But crocs show affection and parental-bonding..…..as the sign says by the crocodile exhibit at The Belize Zoo, “Someone forgot to tell ‘um…We crocs have a cerebellum”…What the sign goes on to cheerfully explain is that this part of the brain is where our emotional side is formed and kept live and active.  A cerebellum provides the brain space for feelings and emotions.    Crocodiles have feelings just as we humans do.  Very amazing!

Baby “Rose” is fond of a snout-rub and a back scratch.  She is shown to visitors who learn about crocodile natural history, and as she grows and remains tame and friendly, we know that she will bring a great deal of important information to zoo visitors about her special and Endangered species here in Belize:  The American Crocodile.  “Rose” truly Glows!!

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