Like to pet alligators? Head to Croc Fest


If you like barbecue, beer, live music and petting alligators, there’s a festival for you: Croc Fest.

The annual event, held Saturday at Jupiter’s Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, brings together reptile lovers to raise money for worldwide croc and gator research. Since a group of friends launched the first festival less than a decade ago, they’ve raised more than a quarter million dollars that supported projects for imperiled crocs from China to West Africa.

“Crocs aren’t exactly the first place people want to spend their money in terms of conservation even thought they are critically important every place they exist,” said Colette Adams, an organizer and general curator at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas. “We’re trying to change that.”

This year’s proceeds will help fund a conservation project aimed at reviving critically endangered Cuban crocs. The crocs can be found only in the Zapata Swamp in a habitat deemed the smallest for any living croc species, which include alligators, crocs and caimans. Researchers are hoping to reintroduce captive bred crocs, study poaching and educate locals about protecting the animals.

Saturday’s festival starts at noon and ends at 10 p.m. Entry is $25 for adults, $10 for teens and free for kids under five and includes all-you-can-eat from Sonny’s BBQ, water and soft drinks. Experts will be on hand for live animal encounters with live music from the Casey Raines Band. For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/crocfests.

Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich