Cuban Crocodile Zoo Assignment
Choose one of the animal you observed for your infographic and position paper.
If the animal of your “choice” is not visible on your day visiting the zoo, you can pick one from the following “back-up” list:
- Burmese rock python
- Philippine crocodile
- Black-and-white ruffed lemur
- Red fronted lemur
- White-cheeked gibbon
- Stanley crane
- Whooping crane
- North Island brown Kiwi
- Blue-billed curassow
- Cayman Island Blue Iguana
Choose one of the animals that you made observations on at the zoo to be the focus of your infographic and position paper. Both assessments should be about the same endangered species.
Assignment – Infographic (75 points)
The final assignment of the semester is a 1 page 17″ x 22″ infographic on your endangered species. This is an individual assignment. You will present this infographic in class along with all of your other classmates. (Note: your infographic should be 17″ by 22″, which is really 2 x 2 8.5″ x 11″ notebook pages. It need not be a single sheet of paper)
You are required to submit hard copies of your data table sheets that you completed at the zoo. These will be worth 15 points of your total grade.
What is an infographic? It is a visual image that represents information and data. It includes images and text. The key is to make it aesthetically appealing while still conveying lots of information! Here is a link to a whole bunch of examples.
You can get your poster printed in the AU Library – Costs and requirements can be found at this link. You can use Eagle Bucks toward the cost. Also, you can get help designing your poster at the MakerSpace on Fridays from 2-3 pm at the Library. Joey Fones is the contact person.
Your infographic should include the following information:
1. Description of the animal, its natural habitat (including geographic region) and how it fits into the ecosystem within that habitat. You should include any information that you collected at the zoo that is important to know in order to understand why this animal is now endangered. (For example, pandas are not great at mating!)
2. Provide numerical evidence that this animal has become endangered and explain the major reasons for it. Reasons include habitat loss, or collapses in other animal populations.
3. What are the current strategies to save this animal? Provide evidence that they are working (or not working). What is the animal’s potential for survival? Cite biological or ecological explanations for why or why not the animal can be saved.
4. Provide the data from your observations. Are you observations consistent with the known behavior of this animal in its natural habitat? What is the zoo doing right? Wrong? What additional strategies is the zoo attempting to save this animal? What kind of research is being done on this animal if any?
6. Pictures that you take of your animal at the zoo – this provides evidence that you were there!
Assignment – Position Paper on Your Endangered Species (75 points)
- Your position paper should be from 2-3 pages in length!
- Provide evidence as to why the animal has become endangered and emphasize the effects of habitat loss. What is being proposed to save its habitat? What is currently known on this animal’s potential for survival?
- Provide facts about the animal species, how it is classified, its natural habitat. Include country/ies of origin, type of habitat, classification and what are the general properties of this animal and the family, order, and/or class it belongs.
- What are the current strategies in place or in planning to save this animal? What does the zoo have to do to maintain the animal? Identify and discuss if the zoo or other scientists are doing research to save this animal.
- Describe what is being done in the country of origin, and by scientists or other groups who may be from different countries. Are these efforts being coordinated or is survival of the animal not possible?
- Make a prediction for the future. Make this prediction based on your research and observations.
- Remember, you must use references and cite them properly for your position paper and your infographic.
During my visit to the zoo this week I observed the Cuban crocodile. I noticed that the animal is an endangered species. It is one of late losing its genetic properties hence at a risk of an identity crisis. Being a rare American species, the Cuban Crocodile has been interbreeding with the American crocodile creating a more stable crossbreed hence leading to survival difficulty to the Cuban Crocodile; the species can go extinct if corrective measures are not taken. The crocodile is best favored by freshwater bodies such as rivers, swamps, and marshlands. The species is one of the animals who are unable to swim in salty and polluted waters; this highly affects its survival. Due to its narrow and limited extending habitat, the species has been subjected to human hunting. They can be easily accessed through in open swamps and rivers; a factor which has led to the vast reduction in their population. There was severe erosion along river banks due to the growth of buffer zones along the rivers which led to the unavailability of prey to the crocodiles.
I learned that the zoo management was trying to build restricted access to the swamps and rivers; this is aimed at reducing the human-crocodile conflicts. The management has proposed to build and renovate the buffer zone around the habitats of this species; this will be achieved through reforesting the buffer zone around the crocodiles’ habitats. The buffer will be vine crops, and the farmers will be compensated for their used land, and they will be allowed to do any farming in the buffers. This step will ensure that the health and functional habitats for the crocodiles are restored. Regular monitoring will be carried out in the crocodile habitat as well as coming up with a breeding station aimed at increasing the survival rate of the young crocodiles. The species’ mating season is between May and July but is mostly determined by factors such temperature and precipitation, and they nest in wet swamps. The crocodile will lay around forty eggs and will take approximately two months to hatch (Morgan, et al 153). Predators such as humans and other animal reduce the number of eggs successfully hatched. The aggressiveness of the animal makes it have a lower survival potential, especially in the youthful stages.
The Cuban crocodile is scientifically known as Crocodylus Rhombifer is the Animalia Kingdom, Reptilian class, crocodilian order, crocodylidae family, crocodylus genus, and rhombifer species. It originated from Cuba, and its natural habitat is in swamps, rivers, and marshlands. The animal is usually 2.1 to 2.3 meters of length although and weighs nearly 75 kilograms. Male ones can go up to 3.5m length and weigh nearly 200 kilograms. The animal is very aggressive, and it is dangerous to animals grazing or humans living near the animal’s habitat. The animal is a short, with a wide front and a skeletal ridge behind the eyes. The species has larger scales on the rear limbs and is darker on the upper side of its body compared to the other parts of the body. Invertebrates and small fish are the crocodile’s common prey. Cuban crocodiles also feed on turtles, birds, and small mammal. In some controlled zoos, pellets, rats, and rabbits are fed to the crocodiles.
The current strategies already put in place to save the animal is separating the Cuban crocodile from other species to curb interbreeding. Interbreeding is causing the unavailability of a pure species of this animal, fencing the animal’s habitat for preventing human hunting, restoring the environment of the animal to make it favorable for growth and survival of the animal. The zoo management has come up with a feeding plan for the Cuban crocodile; the crocodiles are fed after everyone day at 4 p.m. This strategy has increased the productivity of the animal such as some eggs produced as well as increasing the survival rate of the animal. The conservation of swampy areas through reducing erosion is one of the projects currently carried out by the zoo. Scientists and researchers have visited the zoo severally and done research on the effect of the Cuban crocodile crossbreeding with other species. The researchers found that the hybridization of the crocodile was as high as 50% have warned that the continued crossbreeding may lead to the animal species becoming extinct (Targarona 115). The scientists further recommended on the establishment of a sustainable environment for favorable conditions for growth of the animal.
In Cuba where the Cuban crocodile originated, the country is dedicating at preserving the species by creating a meaningful and a long-lasting solution for conserving the habitats for the Cuban crocodile. This includes swamps, rivers, and marshlands. Bilateral agreements and efforts with other countries such as the United States have helped Cuba preserve the natural habitats of the Cuban crocodiles as well as intensifying research on strategies and methods which can be implemented to improve the lifespan, survival rate, and preservation of the genuine species of the Cuban crocodile. Cuban conservation scientists have proposed strict environmental impact assessment policies for projects taking place around the animal’s residents, creating a sustainable ecosystem, and necessary conservation planning must be taken into account to save the lives of the Cuban crocodiles.
Due to the increasing crossbreeding and hybridization between the Cuban crocodile and other crocodile species, it is evident that the genetic properties of the Cuban crocodile get extinct and there will be genuine samples of the Crocodylus Rhombifer. Environmental degradation in areas near the animals’ habitats has posed a great challenge to the survival of the Cuban crocodile such as reduced survival rate. Access by humans to the habitats of the Cuban crocodile has favored hunting of the animal hence reduced their number globally (Weaver 650). These reasons among others convince me beyond doubt that there will come a time when there will be no Cuban crocodiles; their crossbreeds may exist, but they will have lost their genetic properties.
Morgan, Gary S., Richard Franz, and Ronald I. Crombie. “The Cuban crocodile, Crocodylus rhombifer, from late Quaternary fossil deposits on Grand Cayman.” Caribbean Journal of Science 29.3-4 (1993): 153-164.
Targarona, Roberto Ramos, et al. “Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer).” Crocodiles: status, survey and conservation action plan. Third edition. Darwin: Crocodile Specialist Group (2010): 114-118.
Weaver, Jeremy P., et al. “Genetic characterization of captive Cuban crocodiles (Crocodylus rhombifer) and evidence of hybridization with the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus).” Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology 309.10 (2008): 649-660.