Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Celia the Cuban

I wrote about the smaller crocs being moved to their new enclosure at Tenerife Sur Zoo but thought l would tell the story of Celia the Cuban crocodile and her move to the same enclosure…. Once the fence was made higher and croc proof.
Paco had built the new enclosure as he felt the smaller Niles were now at a size they were less likely to get eaten by Celia. Both sets of crocs enclosures had only been temporary ones, true for a few years but only “short term”

Celia had been at the zoo for a number of years. She is a very rare croc being a Cuban and her arrival was different to the normal sort of arrival.
A container ship had docked at Santa Cruz in Tenerife to off and reload cargo. The sailors had been in Cuba and South America on one leg of their trip and had acquired quite a few creatures, mainly parrots. They decided that they would sell the creatures in Tenerife to earn some extra cash.
They had sold most of the animals except Celia, sensibly the citizens of Santa Cruz decided that they would not buy her but stuck to the parrots and few smaller creatures.

At the end of the day when the ship was refreshed and due to sail the crew went back to the ship leaving poor Celia to walk around the streets looking for food and security. The zoo was called and they rescued her. She had been there growing since, and was now around about 7ft and happy in her home.

The trouble with moving her was she spent a lot of time in her pond. It was muddy and impossible to see into, and though only narrow it was deep and Paco insisted she had to be caught not trapped.
This “simple” job was accomplished by pushing a broom handle down into the muddy water and pinning her to the floor. As she reared up in anger a noose was to be dropped over her jaws and pulled shut, then she was hauled out, hogtied and carried to her new home.

No matter how Marco or l said it was a crazy scheme, your hands ended up in the water as the pond was deep, It stressed her out, it stressed us out, we risked injuring her, we risked her injuring us, we got no place he was adamant.
After 2 hours Paco had got bored of supervising, you notice “supervising” he was not putting his hands in there and wandered off but my hub had arrived by now and joined in.
We continued to push the handle down while one of us waited with the noose, every so often we would swop to give a broom pushers a break. You could feel her wizz under the handle as it brushed her. At times she would surface, grab a look and breath and go down again it was crazy. A couple of times we got her to rear up but never managed to get her noosed as she was always at the opposite end to where l was or to far away.

It took about 4 hours before they succeeded in getting her back end pinned, and on cue she reared up by me and l managed to get the noose over her jaws and pull tight.
She slammed around but l held on the other 2 leaping over to help. We got her part way out and more ropes onto her then pulled her out and tied to a plank and immobilised her tail and body.

We carried her over to the new enclosure with the smaller Niles. We were all barefoot, normal for me but not for hub or Marco. Hub cried out as he stood on something but kept going. When we checked his foot later there was just a small hole.

Celia settled quickly into her new home seeming to enjoy it but hubs foot didn’t get better. Finally after about 5 months of limping he allowed me to have a proper look. A dig with a needle and a hard squeeze and out popped a chunk of plastic, it must have gone in deep and the hole closed over it, once out the foot healed.
Celia had her revenge on at least one of us for the indignities of being caught as she was.


Joker the Lurcher said...

oh my! this makes my escapades sound very tame!

Vetnurse said...

DOn't think so Joker you just seem to fall over happenings a bit easier than l do. Hope the paw is improving and keep that spot by the fire :-)