Bonita Springs, Florida (News-Press) -- Thrashing its head and snapping its jaws, this crocodile was not
going to make it easy for National Geographic Wild's "Python Hunters" TV
host to determine its sex.
coaxed the croc out of a corner, used a pole to cinch a rope around the
neck and attempted to place a wet towel over its eyes but the croc kept
fending it off.
"It's like a waltz," said Heflick, who was at Everglades Wonder Gardens on Tuesday.
77-year-old Bonita Springs wildlife rehabilitation center is closing
Sunday. Heflick, a biologist, is looking to buy a pair of American
crocodiles native to Florida he could possibly breed. He owns Crocodile
Manor in Brevard County, home to 11 species of crocs that is closed to
the public but will start offering VIP educational and conservation
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reptile eventually tired enough to leave the towel on its head so
Heflick waited for a few minutes to let it relax. Attempting not to cut
his backside on the croc's scales, he hopped on and held its neck while
Everglades Wonder Gardens owner David Piper stuck his finger in the
slit of its underside.
"I'm not feeling much in there. It might be a female," Piper said.
They switched places, carefully, and Heflick confirmed the sex.
Dave's wife, Dawn Piper, knew it all along.
"Because it won't shut its mouth?" Heflick asked.
"Females just have major attitude," she said.
Piper was ecstatic. "That's money," he shouted. He said plenty of male
nuisance crocs exist but females are more valuable to zoos and private
collectors. He expects to fetch up to $15,000 for this one.
was the second croc Heflick roped Tuesday. The first was more
cooperative, although it jumped into a pool and dented a pole.
just kind of another day in the life type of thing for me," said
Heflick, who travels the globe diving with great white sharks in South
Africa and wrangling giant green anacondas in the Amazon.
not all glitz and glamour. I didn't lose an arm or some other
appendage," he said Tuesday after roping the crocs. "I do like the
excitement. I love being with the animals and handling the animals.
"It's just like being a 7-year-old boy again running amok in the fields," said Heflick, who grew up on an Ohio farm.
That first croc he examined is a male. Piper estimates it's worth about $3,000.
pleased. It's always great to know that there is another sexual pair of
American crocs which are protected in the United States and available
for breeding," Heflick said.
wants to confirm the crocs are native Floridians before making an
offer. "Most people in the United States don't know we have a real
crocodile in Florida," he said. "This family has been here long enough ...
these could actually be the genetically pure Florida crocodile."
said he won't have any trouble selling his animals, crocodilian or
otherwise. "We have animals that major zoos are already clamoring to
get," he said. "We're just waiting to close."