OCTOBER: Pumpkins. Cooler Temperatures. And Crocodiles?

| September 29, 2013

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught.” – Baba Dioum

With another school year underway, it seems appropriate to take a minute to consider the importance of education. Around the country students are sitting down every day and learning the basic tools they will need to be successful, productive and informed members of society. The Aquarium may be far from a traditional educational setting, but by highlighting many threatened or endangered species, we are able to provide a unique learning opportunity of our own: exposure. In the interest of increasing exposure and promoting conservation through education, the Aquarium is proud to present CROCTOBERFEST, a crocodilian education, awareness, and fundraising event being held on Saturday, October 19th, 2013.

If you’ve ever been to the Aquarium on a Saturday morning, chances are you’ve seen the impressive crocodile feeding. With a combined 26 feet and 1100 pounds, Juancho and Miranda- our pair of Orinoco crocodiles- leave a lasting impression. Impressive, yes, but you may be wondering why are crocodiles so important?

The reptiles have often suffered from a bad reputation. Thought of as slimy, unfeeling, and boring, most people seem to feel indifferent at best when it comes to snakes, lizards, and crocodilians. Crocodilians – or crocodiles, alligators, caiman, and gharials – are among the largest, most intelligent, and socially complex of the reptiles. They are often the apex predators within their ecosystems and have been referred to as keystone species – a species whose population determines the integrity and stability of the community. Unfortunately, many crocodilian populations are struggling in the wild. The unregulated hunting of crocodiles for their skins left many species on the brink of extinction by the mid-1900s. Through conservation efforts, management, and regulation, some of these species have been able to recover. Other species, like the Orinoco crocodiles, have failed to recover and face new threats including poaching, environmental modification, and competition. Of the 23 species of crocodilians, ten are currently listed as threatened or endangered.

So what exactly is CROCTOBERFEST? Simply put, it is a day to highlight crocodilians from around the world and increase awareness of the various species and conservation initiatives in place to help protect them. Events at the Aquarium include: artifacts and information stations, games, story time, crocodile feeding and training demonstrations, an opportunity to meet the Reptile Keepers, speak with crocodile experts, and more! Coco the Black Caiman – our mascot for the event – will be making the rounds throughout the day, offering souvenir photos and making sure that everyone is enjoying CrocFest.

Dr. Brady Barr (Herpetologist-National Geographic) will be at the Aquarium as the keynote speaker for the Fundraising Luncheon being held from 11:00-1:30, discussing his experiences with crocodilians around the world. In addition, Carl Franklin (UT-Arlington) will be discussing the presence of the American alligator in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, Colette Adams from the Gladys Porter Zoo will be presenting on the importation of a pair of Orinoco crocodiles from Canada, and DWA Staff will give a brief history of the facility and the success of the Orinoco Crocodile breeding program. Tickets for the lunch event are $20/person for Aquarium members and $30/person for non-members, and include lunch, admission to the lectures, and aquarium admission. Tickets may be purchased at the Event website (croctoberfest.wix.com/dwazoo).

In addition to the Luncheon there will also be a Silent Auction featuring paintings done by representatives of the Critically Endangered crocodile and alligator species.  All proceeds from this event will be directed to the Crocodilian Advisory Group (CAG), to further support their conservation efforts. Projects supported include: habitat restoration and re-introduction of the Chinese Alligator, habitat surveys for the Malay Gharial/Tomistoma, and community level education and conservation programs for the Philippine Crocodile.

This October – why not do something different – expand both you and your childrens’ knowledge beyond the classroom and join us at CroctoberFest for a fun-filled day of learning!

For more information on this event visit the website at: http://croctoberfest.wix.com/dwazoo

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