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Old 07-08-03, 07:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Football playing Crocodiles

Move aside, Air Bud, here comes Air Croc!

King of the crocodiles entertains visitors to Mexico's Ixtapa resort

IXTAPA, Mexico (AP) - Like a lot of people in Mexico, Erroberto Piza Rios likes to kick a soccer ball around. He just does it in a very rough neighbourhood.

When tourists stop by, Piza dons the yellow jersey of his favourite team, America, and plays with his crocodiles - who are named for former players.

"Header, Biyik!" he shouts, kicking the ball off the head of a large but immobile crocodile. "Very good.

"Now you, Zamorano. Show how you control the ball!" Piza says, setting the ball on the head of a 300-kilogram crocodile, which raises its head, letting the ball roll down its back to its tail.

Piza says he's tamed 47 crocodiles over the past 24 years on an inlet at Playa Linda, a beach in the Ixtapa resort area on Mexico's Pacific coast - a region whose inlets and lagoons are noted for crocodiles.

"I'm the king of the crocodiles!" he tells a group of tourists before bellowing out a Tarzan-style cry.

His long, grey hair held back by a headband, Piza offers one of the more eccentric tourism operations in the region.

He reclines on the backs of some of his charges, scratches their bellies, even kisses some of the smaller ones. And he feeds them.

"Was the fish good?" he asks a crocodile that raises its neck so Piza can scratch it as 20 other reptiles keep a distance.

Piza says he's always got along well with creatures that make other people flee.

"I have that gift of speaking with the crocodiles because since I was a boy I've had the habit of getting along with scorpions, snakes, spiders and tarantulas and I've never been attacked by those animals," he says. "Now my crocodiles let me earn a living."

Because Piza holds his shows on public property, he says he can't charge tourists for watching him frolic with the crocodiles. But he asks for donations from passers-by.

As part of another attraction he pulls a small crocodile - about a metre long - from a plastic bag and lets it gently bite his face and arm. He allows tourists to have their pictures taken with the creature for 20 to 40 pesos (about $2.75 to $5.50 Cdn).

Piza says he carries the reptiles about when they are very young, then releases them into a tidal creek at Playa Linda when they are too heavy.

The crocodiles don't have many such friends. Piza says the reptiles' population has declined sharply in recent decades as hotels, golf courses, highways and hotels have spread along the once-wild coast.

About half of the areas where crocodiles lived 30 years ago have built up, says veterinarian Sergio Enriquez Arcaraz, head of the National Resources and Wildlife Department at the federal environmental agency.

He says the agency hasn't done any studies to estimate the total number of crocodiles in the area.

Arcaraz says recent crocodile attacks on a few people in the area drew attention to the reduced habitat, prompting formation of a Commission for the Protection and Conservation of the Crocodile.

One of the commission's tasks is to determine if some crocodiles should be moved from areas where they might come into conflict with humans, to head off calls for them to be exterminated.

On May 22, a reportedly senile woman was killed when she stumbled into an inlet where about 100 crocodiles live.

But crocodiles are not always co-operative with relocation efforts.

"The crocodiles are territorial and many of them, although they are relocated far from their places of origin, return to where they were born," Arcaraz says.

"Now a lot of hotels and restaurants have problems because the crocodiles have returned five or 10 years after they were removed from their original territory."

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Old 07-08-03, 08:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Taming a crocodile...yikes..I won't even try to imagine how hard that is!
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Old 07-08-03, 03:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You should see what Roark Ferguson has done with the largest croc in captivity. He has it to the point he can kiss it on the head.
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__________________ 2.2 Crotalus adamanteus. 2.2 Crotalus h. atricaudatus. 2.2 Crotalus h. horridus. 1.1 Agkistrodon p. piscivorus. 1.1 Agkistrodon c. contortrix. 1.1 Agkistrodon c. mokasen. 1.1 Agkistrodon c. laticinctus. 1.1 Agkistrodon c. pictigaster. Agkistrodon c. phaeogaster. 1.2 Sistrurus miliarius barbouri. 1.1 Micrurus fulvius. 0.0.1 Micrurus fulvius tenere
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Old 07-08-03, 04:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sounds like health issue to me..
As for Ferguson, sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

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Old 07-08-03, 04:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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OMG that guy is crazy! Look how huge that croc is!
Who are you callin' a freak?!
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Old 07-08-03, 04:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well he's gonna get hit one of these days!
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Old 07-08-03, 05:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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thats just... mad!!
i dont think you should ever trust animals which are so unpredictable.... (thats if they are unpredictable.. i really dont know much about crocodile predictability correct me if im wrong)
and that is one huge crocodile..... i would probably crap my pants even if i was behind the fence!!:
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Old 07-08-03, 07:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I dunno, seeing as they live together in inlets they seem to be social animals, as long as they don't see you as food or a threat you should be fine.
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Old 07-08-03, 07:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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There are a bunch of pics a vids on this croc on

click on the link to its own Flash page

Its an amazing animal!
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Old 07-08-03, 09:35 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Humans are a food source to crocodilians and they do consider you food. Either way it'll catch up to him. Same thing happened with another Salt water croc, I don't think it was a hybrid though,
At the Crocodile Ranch. Though the guy lived; I find it exactly the same as Hot keepers see free handling.

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