India’s largest crocodile bank, the Madras Crocodile Bank, has been running out of funds owing to the pandemic, in turn leading to a possibility of it shutting down indefinitely. But you can turn this ill-fate around and help save the reptile haven with these easy steps. By Bayar Jain

 

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Following the COVID-19-induced lockdown in India, the country’s largest crocodile bank, The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology, found itself struggling to stay afloat. As per reports by Economic Timesthe Chennai-based reptile zoo and herpetology research station has funds enough to sustain the animals only till November. This cash-strapped situation came into being owing to the ticket revenue depletions—which ordinarily accounts for half of the park’s revenue—following the lockdown. Quoting an appeal on the zoo’s website, Financial Express states that the senior staff of the park took a voluntary pay cut of 10 to 50 per cent to curb losses, while also cutting down on activities.

 

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Over the years of its survival, since Rom and Zai Whitaker established the Trust in 1976, the crocodile bank aimed to create a repository of these reptiles for safekeeping, and eventually restocking into the wild. With wilderness spaces declining countrywide, freeing the animals in the jungles have been curbed. However, 17 species—of which three are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)—find refuge here today. Moreover, the bank has now expanded to include turtles, lizards, and snakes into its safe space as well.

 

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To prevent these animals from losing their homes, the bank is accepting donations on the official website. These donations can be made across various categories, such as day-long sponsorships for running the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station; crocodile adoptions; monetary contributions for local staff; paying for animal feed; and COVID-19-relief funds.

Although closed temporarily right now, on reopening, you can help by volunteering directly at the park premises as well. This includes volunteer programmes for zoo maintenance; becoming a part of the Croc Bank’s Docent Programme, or even creating wildlife documentaries about the zoo. And, of course, by paying a visit to these wetland-loving animals!

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