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May 26, 2020

American Croc Starves with a Stomach Full of Plastics

An American crocodile was found on the brink of death on the north side of Ambergris Caye over the weekend.  He was eventually euthanized because his condition was too far gone, but the shocking discovery of what led to his emaciated condition was only made after he was put down.  Eighty-two plastic bags were discovered in the endangered croc’s stomach during a necropsy. Those bags were starving the croc, whose digestive system was in bad condition as a result. It is not entirely clear how so many bags were inside the croc’s stomach, but it is believed that pollution may be one cause, followed by persons feeding the crocs in bags. We spoke with Chris Summers of ACES, who says that it’s the first time they have seen so many plastics inside a croc.


On the Phone: Chris Summers, Operations Manager, ACES

“He was emaciated to the point of death and he was also missing two-thirds of its tail which was really badly infected.  We already knew he was gonna have to be euthanized. I have never seen an animal looking so bad. We spoke to Forestry. We spoke to a wildlife vet up in Cayo and everybody kind of agreed that it was best to end the animal’s misery.”


Andrea Polanco

“And after he was put down, you guys did an incision on him to find out what was going on inside?”


On the Phone: Chris Summers

“We did a necropsy just so we could find out what was going on inside. It wasn’t the obvious external injuries and when we got to the stomach we could see that the stomach we could see that the stomach was full to the brim but the intestines were shrivelled and tiny from lack of use. We could feel when we felt the stomach that it was full and solid and that it wasn’t natural. And as soon as we made that first incision into the stomach you saw plastic immediately. It was just full of plastic. You didn’t have to dig around it was absolutely compacted with plastic bags.”


Andrea Polanco

“What was your reaction when you saw like this – I imagine it was quite something?”


On the Phone: Chris Summers

“Oh yeah. We were horrified. I had never seen something like this. You would find the odd one or two bags when you do a necropsy on a croc same as marine animals in the ocean. You do a necropsy and you find the odd plastic bag here and there was accidentally ingested but this was eighty-two plastic bags. I have never seen something like that. It is insane. Absolutely insane. This animal starved to death on a full stomach. It is insanity. Absolute insanity.”


Andrea Polanco

“Chris, what could have caused that croc to have ingested so many plastic bags?”


On the Phone: Chris Summers

“I don’t know. My first thought is people feeding it to him. Some could be accidental ingestion. These animals that have been habituated to come for chickens in that if there is a bag on the floor and they are hungry and it smells like chicken they might pick it up. That is not the case for some of these. Most of these bags were chicken bags. Some of them were whole chicken bags and some of them were the innards which have like the guts and things that you would find in the whole chicken? And a lot of them were bags that have neck and back in them. When we pulled these bags out of the stomach, some of them were bags inside bags and a lot of them were folded up into tight little squares.   We now have eighty-two more reasons to now look at this illegal feeding and the impact that it is having. We are now left with the question now how many more of these animals up there are left with this same situation of stomachs full with plastics? Let’s say for argument’s sake that it was accidental ingestion, just how bad is the garbage that a predator would ingest eighty two plastic bags? You got to think that it is not just the crocodile, everything else out there is ingesting this stuff, ingesting this garbage; turtles in the ocean to little fish that are feeding down on the micro plastics. It is affecting the entire ecosystem.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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