Captured croc becomes turtle farm performer

| 30/05/2011

(CNS): The Cayman Turtle Farm has revealed that a nine foot long crocodile which was captured in 2006 in North Side has become a permanent exhibit at the facility, allegedly entertaining visitors at feeding times. “Smiley”, as the female crocodile has been called, is now being housed alone in a purpose-built enclosure, named Smiley’s Saltwater Lounge. The farm said the creature “has proven very popular” since being introduced last month to the facility’s wildlife encounter. The croc is believed to be a mix of Cuban and American crocodiles and therefore was unsuitable for release back into the wild.

The farm said that visitors are able to watch three weekly feeding shows where Smiley rises out of the water to snare the food dangled above her. Cayman Turtle Farm Managing Director Tim Adam said the animal programmes staff had worked hard to get to know “this fascinating creature" over the four-plus years since Smiley had been captured and taken to the farm before becoming an exhibit.

“She is quite a character,” Adam said. “Now visitors to the Turtle Farm can experience a bit of her behaviour first-hand and up close.”

Over the years there have been, and continue to be, several sightings of crocodiles in the Cayman Islands. Although the original indigenous caiman is believed to be extinct, there appear to be at least two crocodiles living here in the wild.  Smiley was first spotted and eventually caught inthe waters off the Queen’s Highway in North Side at the end of 2006.

Once it was discovered that Smiley was a mix of the American and Cuban crocodile, the Cayman Turtle Farm offered her a home because, it said, environmentalists consider it undesirable to release hybrid animals into the wild. Since Smiley was moved to the farm she has been the subject of study by staff, who have also been training her, and she has now become an official exhibit.

In a release the farm said she can follow a pole target and launch out of the water to jump for her food.  The enclosure affords onlookers a great view through Plexiglas panels that keep the visitors safe only a few feet away from the crocodile. A sign at the enclosure also offers information about Smiley.

Geddes Hislop, the Curator for the Terrestrial and Education Programme at the Turtle Farm, offers visitors a short presentation on Smiley and crocodiles. “We hope that this new exhibit, which offers a great opportunity to watch Smiley, will both entertain and educate visitors as we highlight the significance of the crocodile in Cayman’s history,” Hislop said.

The islands’ name “Cayman” is an Anglicised version of the word Caiman, the Spanish word for crocodile which was derived from the language of the indigenous peoples that inhabited Cuba and the Bahamas. Because of the abundance of sea turtles at the time of discovery in 1503 Columbus named the islands “Las Tortugas” but the islands were re-named “Caimanes” as far back as the 1530’s due to the large numbers ofthese crocodiles reported by colonial explorers in those days.

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Category: Science and Nature

Comments (24)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ha, am I the only one who remembers Hurricane Michelle, 2001? It washed through the turtle farm releasing their last two crocs into our community / waters, for several months ?  Some people never learn.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hear crocodile burgers taste good. Anyone know where we can get some? Oh. no. they only sell turtle here.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is this the croc that some hero shot with a spear gun?

    • GR says:

      Yip.  The one that the police tried to shoot from the helicopter before it was shot with a speargun and captured.

  4. Alan Nivia says:

    Tacky just got permanently tackier.

  5. anonymously says:

    still looking for a job, and smiley face is performer, an actor in less than one week!  This is unbelievable!  I gone see ezzard miller!

  6. Whodatis says:

    So … a wild animal that was presumably born into and captured in the wild is deemed unsuitable by humans to be allowed or released back into the wild??

    Interesting.

    • Anonymous says:

      Same thing I was thinking…

    • Anonymous says:

      deemed unsuitable by caymanian humans…..

      • Whodatis says:

        Just had to go there huh??

        By the way, "… environmentalists consider it undesirable to release hybrid animals into the wild …"

        It appears they (regardless of background) were simply following global industry guidelines.

        • Anonymous says:

          care to elaborate on these 'global industry guidelines'???

          • Whodatis says:

            Nope.

            However, I do encourage you to contact the relevant authorities – hopefully they will be of some assistance.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Smiley's turning tricks at the Turtle Farm…at least he has a job and contributing to the governmnent coffers!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Look at Cayman news political mascot old, greedy and canabalistic and always smiling, the envy of all our politicians

  9. anonymously says:

    you mean to tell me, I've lived here for more than 16 yrs – and a Croc over me, gets Cayman Status plus free food perks for life?!

    I am ssoooooo jealous!

    • cow itch says:

      And you know just looking at the pic, smiley is enjoying every moment of it!  The old croc just makes me sick!

       

    • Me too Jealous! says:

      This is just pathetic!  And to see that I could have been the one in that pool.  But noooooo… little arm smiley face here can't feed himself, so she gets a free government handout at the turtle farm!  Just look at her… what a show off!!

      It is final. That's the last straw!  No more voting for Udp ever again!

    • Anonymous says:

      For god sake, just wrestle the croc will ya!

    • Lib says:

      I know how you feel. She don't speak spanish, can't read, can't write, and don't even have a passport. At least she is an animal in captivity – but we are not!  She is a symbol of what we may become if we continue on relying on these two governments (uk/local) to take care of us. All these government projects to boost the economy are just leading to that, because it is an attempt to increase the size and power of government over the people of the Cayman Islands.  

    • Chris says:

      Also, an illegal lander

      • Anonymous says:

        yeah… right…. who is going to deport her?  Immigration?  When they can't even handcuff her!  Her hands slip right through the cuffs. She'll just take that tail of hers and whip them to "thy kingdom come."  Did you ever seen the movie "Silence of the Lambs"!  When she's down with them on flight 101….

    • Anonymous says:

      Hell, my dogs got it over on you, bobo

  10. Anonymous says:

    ''Once it was discovered that Smiley was a mix of the American and Cuban crocodile, the Cayman Turtle Farm offered her a home, as, it said, environmentalists consider it undesirable to release hybrid animals into the wild''….. ???????

    i would love to hear one of these 'environmentalists' explain this nonsense….seems like an excuse to capture an animal from the wild and have it do circus tricks down at the farm…..zzzzzz