Gatorland chosen to host ‘CrocFest’ 2021

Fundraising event helps endangered crocodiles in the wild

News 6 speaks with Gatorland about CrocFest 2021

ORLANDO, Fla. – Gatorland is known to help and educate the public about alligators and crocodiles through its park and Gatorland Global initiatives. Now, the theme park is about to make an even bigger difference for one endangered crocodile species.

Gatorland was recently chosen to host CrocFest 2021. The annual event, which began 11 years ago, has raised more than $600,000 for crocodiles in peril.

All the funds raised at this year’s event at Gatorland will help support the release and satellite tracking of a group of head-started Orinoco crocodiles, raised at several U.S. zoos for the sole purpose of re-introducing these fascinating crocodiles into their natural habitats in Venezuela.

Orinoco Crocodile at Gatorland (McReynolds)

The crocs are critically endangered, with an estimated 1,500 animals left in the wild.

“It is the largest “New World” crocodilian, brought to near-extinction in the mid-1900s by unsustainable hunting for hides. Their eggs and meat are still taken for food, and their teeth are thought by some locals to have healing powers. Conservation efforts to date include the establishment of a national park, Parque National Santos Luzardo, and headstart or release programs for young crocodiles whose eggs were harvested from wild nests to ensure their survival,” officials described in a news release.

Orinoco Crocodile at Gatorland (McReynolds)

CrocFest will be held on Dec. 11 from noon to 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $30 donation for adults, $10 for students ages 5 to 17, and children under 5 are free. Admission includes dinner and drinks, including soft drinks, water, and beer, with drinks available starting at 3 p.m. and dinner served at 4 p.m.

Shirts will be sold and a silent auction will be held at 6 p.m.

“We are so excited to be hosting CrocFest for the very first time and help raise awareness of the critically endangered Orinoco crocodile,” said Mark McHugh, President and CEO of Gatorland. “In addition, we are absolutely thrilled to have been the only park in Central Florida chosen to raise two Orinoco crocodile hatchlings for the release program in Venezuela. This groundbreaking research project is a perfect fit for our conservation programs under Gatorland Global.”

Click here for tickets and information.

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About the Author:

Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.