CrocFest is a non-profit organization that raises money twice each year for the research and conservation of various crocodilians. This is a wonderful fundraising event that I am always so excited and proud to participate in. Earlier this December the winter 2018 CrocFest fundraising event was put on at Gatorama - a home to predominantly crocodilian residents, Gatorama provides captive housing for various crocodilians including American alligators, American crocodiles, Saltwater crocodiles, Nile crocodiles, and many more. In addition to the main attraction, this facility houses various tortoises, lizards, and snakes for entertainment and educational purposes. Gatorama generously opened their doors to be the platform and location for winter CrocFest to occur, and donated all admission to the park directly to the CrocFest cause.
Winter CrocFest 2018 raised money and awareness for the Indian Gharial. The Indian Gharial is one of only two species of it's kind, and it is suffering tragic decline. The beneficiary of the funds raised this year go to Jeff Lang. Dr. Lang is a world rebound crocodilian biologist who taught Animal Behavior and Vertebrate Zoology at the University of North Dakota for over 20 years and has headed various research projects focusing mainly on crocodilians and turtles.
In 2008 there was a mass die-off of over 110 Indian Gharials. This tragic event sparked the Gharial Ecology Project (GEP) headed by Jeff and another biologist in India, Romulus Whitaker. Together they obtained some funding to radio track Gharial in the area where the mass die-off occured in order to see how this even influenced reproduction of the species along with other aspects of their ecology. Jeff has been directing this effort as an unpaid volunteer, paying for his airfare and expenses for three trips a year since 2008 and training dedicated staff for the project.
His efforts to date have ruled out some of the potential obvious causes for the Gharial die-off included tainted food sources and pollution of habitat. This suggest an event specific to Gharials - disease, genetic mutation, or potentially response to stress. The research has document movement of size classes from hatchling to adult, males and females, daily and seasonal patterns of movement which are all important towards understanding the life of Gharials and allowing scientists to identify key factors to move the species towards recovery.
The money raised at CrocFest goes directly to Jeff and his research group in order to further fund the research and conservation of this amazing g species.
CrocFest is broken up into two parts:
Silent auction, and live auction. The wonderful event has gracious donors and caterors whom provide beverages, food, and servers for the event. These tasty delights are there to enjoy while attendees mingle amongst th8emselves, look at auction items, and enjoy exhibits.
These auctions, in addition to t-shirt sales and the price of admission, are the main method to raise funds. All auction items are donated by wonderful supporters of crocodilian conservation and research. Items this year ranged from ZooMed and Zilla reptile tanks and accessories, authentic clothing and decorations from India, beer, jewelry, decorative plates, live reptiles and arachnids, custom artwork, food, alcohol, knives, tickets to various Florida attractions and much much more.
The silent auction goes from event start until 5PM, at which point the highest bidder takes their winnings. After the silent auction items have been claimed and donations collected it is time for the main event: the live auction. The rules are simple- if you raise your hand, scratch your head, or get outwardly excited over an auction item you make a bid....its all for conservation, remember? Highest bid takes all, and even the auctioneer can bid things out from the crowd. This is quite a lively event, and battles to outbid one another can escalate quite dramatically (and quickly).
The important part of CrocFest is to remember that ALL proceeds go directly towards research and conservation of wonder crocodilian species in need. This year winter CrocFest raised over $40,000.
Everyone loves a happy beginning
CrocFest will continue to raise money and awareness for crocodilian research, and has already announced its summer 2019 CrocFest event which will take place in June 2019 at Zoo Miami in southern Florida.
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Ferrets and Friends, LLC has four writers bringing you information on a variety of topics from pets to wildlife, education to conservation, and from new developments in our business to information about our industry. Learn something new each week!