- Press Release - To celebrate Child Stimulation month (March), the San Pedro Town Library has a new VIP library patron. A five-year-old female saltwater crocodile visited the library during Noontime Story Hour. She was recently rescued from a drying pond on south Ambergris Caye.

The unusual visit began with readings in fiction and non-fiction from books about crocodiles by patrons. The books were selected and organized by the Librarians. The crocodile sponsors are biologist Cherie Rose and behaviorist Vince Rose, founders of ACES, American Crocodile Education Sanctuary. ACES is licensed by the Government of Belize Forest Department to study, rescue and relocate saltwater crocodiles.

"Education is key to protecting this apex predator. Their numbers have decreased dramatically due to destruction of their habitat and illegal hunting and trade in crocodiles," commented Ms. Cherie who then gave the eager young patrons a talk about crocodilian biology.

About 30 young patrons, age 6 to 12, were in the library at the time. Every child who wanted to touch the crocodile was permitted to do so in exchange for raising their hand and being recognized. Each child had to tell the group a crocodile factoid in order to touch the shy and reclusive reptile. Crocodiles carry salmonella bacteria so everyone washed their hands afterwards. It's always good to handle books with clean hands too!

Crocodiles are the only reptile with a four chambered heart like a human heart. They have three eyelids, (one pair acts like goggles), and can remain submerged underwater for up to two and a half, even longer than a whale in the ocean. Many Mayan people believe that crocodiles carry the world in which we live on their backs and swim across a vast body of water. Some believe crocodiles are gods of the underworld because they can stay underwater for so long. They help transport our souls to the underworld when we die.

In Egyptian mythology, Sobek was a powerful and frightening god who created order from chaos when he came out of the great Nile River. Sobek is a god pictured as a man with a crocodile head in Egyptian painting and sculpture. Ancient Egyptians prayed to Sobek and built temples to him to protect them from the plentiful real crocodiles in the Nile River. To this day, many Egyptians do not eat or kill crocodiles and consider them sacred. "No matter where you are in the world and what you believe, crocodiles should be protected, respected and left alone", said Liz Gibson, a volunteer and friend of the San Pedro Library.

Iracela Acosta, the head librarian and her assistant, both of the San Pedro Town Library, were happy to host the visit. They issued the young and scaly reptile her very own library card. "Since crocodiles can live up to 80 years in the wild, and spend most of their time relaxing and patiently waiting for a fish or raccoon dinner to pass by, we want our VIP visitor to be able to read throughout her very long and happy crocodile life."