It is a sight to behold, a sixty five year old crocodile that has become hugely popular. The crocodile is so friendly that it turned into a tourist attraction at the Lamanai Riverside Retreat in Orange Walk. At twelve feet in length, the reptile comes easily to shore to greet guests and friends and overtime has become like a family pet. News Five Delahnie Bain also found that Bob is fond of cameras. Here’s her report.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
When you think of crocodiles, the image of a man eating creature as shown in movies often comes to mind. But the Pelayo family at the Lamanai Riverside Retreat are hoping to change that stereotype with a twelve foot croc named Bob.
Lance Pelayo, Tour Guide, Lamanai Riverside Retreat
“You do see crocodiles flowing by. There’s one crocodile in particular; his name is Bob, he’s about sixty-five years old, he’s about twelve feet in length. He comes around and for the Lamanai Riverside Retreat he is a tourist attraction himself. Bob is an amazing creature. He’s a friend to the family then, he’s like a pet. We can pet him, touch him, he does a couple stuffs. He comes out lays on the grass, opens his mouth—he loves cameras, he takes pictures.”
Bob is only one of about fifteen crocs that have been regular visitors at Lamanai since it opened fifteen years ago.
“It started with I guess my dad. Crocodiles used to come along and people were scared of swimming in the river. I guess it was crazy bet back in the days with friends and when we swim across they say hey man can you go across the river and from then we never got scared of them again. We just tagged them to see the size. It’s not like we go out every time and tag them in river like annually. Just occasionally we mark them so that when they come back we know who’s who and how big he’s grown from then.”
But according to Lance Pelayo, the reptiles are no longer safe in the river because they are targeted by other residents.
“There were other crocodiles that use to come around but right now the people are, I guess they’re damaging the creatures because we found one of the crocodiles floating over there the last time and his head was decapitated and that was a huge crocodile. Right now people come up to them, the throw things at them, they took out one of Bob’s eyes. Back in the days we had another one that used to come around, Felipe. He was much bigger and somebody shot him. I got a picture of my little brother there swimming with one of the crocodiles. You can see how harmless they are but like I said, all wild animals they do tend to have a tendency that they can react at any moment. But as long as they don’t feel threatened by you, they won’t bring you no harm.”
Pelayo says he’s been up close and personal with crocs up to sixteen feet large and was never harmed. So he has a message for those who started hunting his friends.
“They’re amazing animals. You look at them, you see it and you know it. They are very beautiful when you look at them close up. A lot of people are scared of them but try not to hurt them. They’re not doing you any harm—I don’t think the crocodile will come out and go in your house and eat you right so let em be and don’t go into their house. Simple as that.”
Delahnie Bain for News Five.