Trunkline Magazine (Louisville Zoo) June 2018 | Page 13

You HELP Save ANIMALS CrocFest Leading the charge for saving the Cuban crocodile, one of the world’s most critically endangered crocodilians, is the Louisville Zoo’s own Curator of Ectotherms, Bill Mc- Mahan, the national Species Survival Plan (SSP) Coordinator for Cuban crocodiles. To help these crocodiles, McMahan has traveled to their na- tive territory — the swamps in Cuba. In his travels, he has had to deal with trees more toxic than poison ivy, huge mosquitoes, biting flies, razor- sharp limestone rocks hidden in murky water and quicksand that had to be crossed in dashes to avoid sink- ing. No obstacle is too great to keep Bill from helping these endangered reptiles. On a return trip to Cuba, he traveled with our former education Curator Marcelle Gianelloni, who lived in Havana through her teens, to spend time with teachers and students helping them to understand the important role of the Cuban crocodile in their region and how they could help protect it. While en- vironmental education is part of the (Above) Bill McMahan (hat) treks through the swamps of Cuba for crocodiles (Right) At night, Bill works with team of Cuban biologists by lantern curriculum in all Cuban schools, the crocodile had received little at- tention. This is an important step in conservation efforts for any animal, as helping local residents come to value a species as a biological and economic resource increases the like- lihood of its survival. More recently, Bill serves on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Crocodile specialist group and completed a report about the Cuban crocodile population which will be used by the IUCN as they monitor the status of Cuban crocodiles. The Louisville Zoo was also a sponsor of the Winter CrocFest 2017 in St. Augustine, Florida, a special event that raised funds for the Cuban crocodile. CrocFest is a social gathering of environmental stewards that have crocodil- ians as a common interest. Over the years, this event has raised over $281,000 to fund more than 12 projects in over a dozen countries. A comprehensive conservation project has been proposed which involves reintroducing Cuban crocodiles produced in managed environments into safe, remote areas of Zapata Swamp (areas with no people) to boost the crocodile’s population. The reintroduced animals will be monitored to determine how they adjust to their new environment. In addition, the issue of poaching will be studied to determine the best strategy to combat this threat. The next Crocfest will take place on June 20, 2018 in Kenansville, Florida. For more information visit Did you know Cuban Crocodile at Louisville Zoo Twenty-five cents from every Louisville Zoo gen- eral admission ticket and one dollar from every membership goes to conservation. Collectively, these quarters and dollars can make a huge impact! Just by visiting the Zoo or becoming a member, you play an important part in helping vital conservation efforts around the world. Reptiles need our help! Globally, 989 species of reptiles, or al- most 20 percent of evaluated species, are endangered or vulnerable to extinction. The Louisville Zoo is home to some of these endan- gered reptiles including the critically endangered Cuban crocodile. Louisville Zoo Trunkline • Summer 2018 • 13