Gatorland®, The Alligator Capital of the World, will proudly host for the first time on Dec. 11, 2021, CrocFest, the annual fundraising event for crocodiles in peril, which has raised more than $600,000 in the last 11 years. This year’s event will support the release and satellite tracking of a group of head-started Orinoco crocodiles, Crocodylus intermedius, raised at several U.S. zoos for the sole purpose of re-introducing these fascinating crocodiles into their natural habitats in Venezuela.
The Orinoco crocodile is listed by the International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Critically Endangered, with an estimated 1,500 animals left in the wild, mostly in Venezuela. It is the largest “New World” crocodilian, brought to near-extinction in the mid-1900s by unsustainable hunting for hides. Their eggs and meat are still taken for food, and their teeth are thought by some locals to have healing powers. Conservation efforts to date include the establishment of a national park, Parque National Santos Luzardo, and headstart/release programs for young crocodiles whose eggs were harvested from wild nests to ensure their survival. Funds raised through CrocFest will provide much needed resources to support the headstart program as well as track the crocodiles’ long-term viability in a country where crocodiles are currently afforded little protection.
“We are so excited to be hosting CrocFest for the very first time and help raise awareness of the critically endangered Orinoco crocodile,” said Mark McHugh, President, and CEO of Gatorland. “In addition, we are absolutely thrilled to have been the only park in Central Florida chosen to raise two Orinoco crocodile hatchlings for the release program in Venezuela. This groundbreaking research project is a perfect fit for our conservation programs under Gatorland Global.” Gatorland Global was created in 2018 with a mission to Protect, Conserve, and Educate. Gatorland Global’s programs are designed to protect alligators and crocodiles in Florida, while providing significant resources to support conservation research of critically endangered crocodiles across the globe.
CrocFest will be held from noon to 8:30 p.m on Dec. 11, with attendees entering a separate entrance at the South End of Gatorland. Tickets are $30 donation for adults, $10 for students ages 5 to 17. Children under age 5 are free. Admission includes dinner and drinks, including soft drinks, water, and beer, with drinks available starting at 3 p.m. and dinner served at 4 p.m. Event shirts will be on sale, and a silent auction will take place at 6 p.m. For more CrocFest information and to purchase tickets in advance, CLICK HERE
Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park combining Old Florida charm with exciting experiences, exhibits, and entertainment. Originally opened as a roadside attraction in 1949, the park is celebrating 72 years as Central Florida’s favorite family-owned and operated theme park. Today, Gatorland provides affordably-priced family fun featuring thousands of alligators and crocodiles, breeding marsh with observation tower, free-flight aviary, nature walk, petting zoo, educational wildlife programs, award-winning gift shop, Florida’s best train ride, Gator Gully Splash Park, on-site restaurant, and one-of-a-kind shows including Gator Jumparoo, Alligators-Legends of the Swamp, and Up-Close Encounters. Popular adventure experiences inside the park include the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line and Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure.
For more Gatorland information, visit www.gatorland.com or call 800-393-JAWS.