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Crocodile farm continues despite struggles

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Granja de Cocodrilos Itzamkanac. Photo: TripAdvisor
Granja de Cocodrilos Itzamkanac. Photo: TripAdvisor

Rio Lagartos, Yucatán — Goliat and Tomasita have a privileged life at the Itzamkanac Cooperative. They are the only two named crocodiles among 358 members of their species at this UMA, or wildlife management unit.

This UMA was established four years ago with the goal of selling the animals’ skin, meat, oil and skeletons. The EFE wire service wrote about them Saturday, bringing much-needed attention to this struggling outpost in a sparsely populated part of the state.

Not that Itzamkanac has gone completely unnoticed. Participants in this year’s BBVA Route, a Spanish government youth program aimed at promoting cultural exchanges among Ibero-American countries, visited the cooperative earlier this month.

granja-de-cocodrilos2700px
TripAdvisor

During their visit, part of a tour of Mayan jungles, they learned about the life and habits of these reptiles and even fed and held one of the animals, EFE reported.

None of the 10 employees of the cooperative earn a salary for their work feeding, cleaning and caring for the animals. But they work there as full-time volunteers and help each other out when they run into economic difficulties.

They hope to recover their investment in time and money when the crocodiles are big enough to be harvested. It takes years for them to reach the 1.45 meters length and 30-35 centimeter width.

VisitRioLagartos.com
VisitRioLagartos.com

A crocodile’s skin can sell for $500 and its meat can be worth as much as 400-500 pesos (US$22-25) per kilo — one animal can weigh as much as five kilos.

The project began four years ago with 30 crocodiles, 25 females and five males, but the number of animals has since grown to 360 and 250 more are expected to be born this year.

Marfil said the goal was to “reach 1,000 animals annually within six years.”

Reviews from visitors on TripAdvisor were mixed. One guest raved at the experience, while another complained that it was closed; another left one star because they became lost when trying to find it.

A tourist site for the region has a page for the Granja de Cocodrilos Itzamkanac, but has “lorem ipsum” placeholder text where the descriptions should be.

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