New year made me think of when l was at Tenerife Sur zoo and new enclosures. Paco who owns the zoo decided to build a couple of new crocodile ponds, one for the 7 or so Nile crocs only about 3 to 4ft long at that point.
It was a lovely area and he worked bloody hard on the landscaping and habitat. When he had finally completed the building and the move l was sitting with Marco who owned the reptilarium within the zoo grounds. We were sprawled out having a coffee looking at the crocs.
“Crocs climb well” l said looking at the new home.
“Yes” mumbled Marco
Did you not sort of mention it to Paco, l tried but he told me to bug off, he knew that and that it was too nice an enclosure for them to try and get out from” l said
“Well l tried to warn him but he told me similar” replied Marco.
We slurped our coffees watching the crocs having a “new house explore”. They approached the low fence, about 2 or 3 ft high mesh, very different from the solid brick and concrete 4 or 5ft high wall of their old home.
“What’s the betting they climb out soon as they get to the fence” l asked Marco.
Marco’s English was not too good (he was Italian) but he got the gist of what l asked and said that he was not going to loose money by saying they wouldn’t climb out.
Croc one got to the fence and set up it like a monkey up a tree, 4 more followed in quick succession. We sat and drank our coffees, trying to decide how far they would get before Paco discovered them. It was a very quiet day no public were in the zoo. It was a Friday which is a big change over day for holidaymakers, hence the lack of concern on our part.
The escapees set off with different ideas. A couple headed for the main entrance to do some sightseeing around the area, one went back towards his old home and a couple sunbathed on the warm concrete pathway.
The ones heading for the exit were spotted by Paco who was doing the gate that day. He came out of there like a scalded cat and was off like a weasel on steroids to catch them. We sat and drank our coffees and munching on some peanuts l found in my pocket.
As fast as Paco got one miscreant rounded up and back in the new house area and went to grab another one of the others made a break up the wire climbing to freedom. By now all crocs were at some stage of being repatriated, climbing out or walking nonchalantly around the zoo. We pointed out helpfully where the escapees were and had a very entertaining half hour trying to guess who would head in what direction. In the end Paco "dumped" them all back into theor old housing unit till he arranged and carried out a redesign and rebuilt the surrounding mesh.
He marched up to us and asked what the hell we were doing just sitting watching him, why hadn’t we come and told him and helped him. Marco told him that we had warned him some weeks before about what would happen and as he had told us to piss off and do something useful we felt it was our duty to not interfere.
You did not have to speak Spanish to understand what he said to us before he stormed off back to the gate. We finished our coffees and ambled back to work. We had work to do and no time like some to go and play with crocodiles all morning.