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ABQ BioPark staff travel to Zoo National d'Abidjan to continue partnership to conserve endangered crocodile.

12/1/17 - Four ABQ BioPark staff journeyed to the Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) this October to continue a partnership with Zoo National d'Abidjan (ZNA) that helps conserve the critically endangered West African slender-snouted crocodile. 

The ABQ BioPark has been visiting ZNA since 2014. The project is led by Supervisor of Herpetology Matt Eschenbrenner, and this year's trip included Eschenbrenner, Zookeeper Supervisor Chaz Moxley, Aquarist Adam Clark and Communications Officer Tina Deines.

Highlights of the trip included adult and juvenile crocodile exams, maintenance on crocodile and hippo pool filtration systems and continuing inventory. The group also presented information about the multi-year project alongside crocodile conservationist and Project Mecistops founder Matt Shirley at the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan. View the Flickr photo album here.

The trip was made possible by the New Mexico BioPark Society (NMBPS). The ABQ BioPark would like to thank NMBPS, Matt Shirley, Project Mecistops and the City of Albuquerque for their support.

Meet the team members:

Matt Eschenbrenner

Matt Eschenbrenner with a juvenile crocodile at Zoo National d'Abidjan in 2017.

"This project is very near and dear to my heart. What started as a mission to help critically endangered crocodiles has grown to encompass numerous species of animals, two zoological facilities on different sides of the world, countless individuals from multiple countries and many dedicated BioPark staff.

I am very lucky to be given access to these incredibly rare crocodilians and to be in a position where I can assist the ZNA in their reproduction and day to day health and husbandry. Abidjan really grows on you.

Being able to travel to Cote d’Ivoire has really been an eye opener for me personally. I have been exposed to an entirely new culture and our friends there have been very welcoming and treat us like family."

Chaz Moxley

Chaz Moxley hanging some bird enrichment at Zoo National d'Abidjan during the 2017 trip.

"The greatest challenge during this year's trip was the weather. It was the beginning of rainy season, and those were some of the heaviest rains I have ever experienced. 

One of the best parts of the trip was seeing how much the juvenile crocs have grown. It was also great seeing the group of chimps - we had to move them to small holding areas two years ago and now they're back in their large enclosure."

Adam Clark

Adam Clark helping with crocodile exams at Zoo National d'Abidjan in 2017.

"One of the best parts of Africa was simply walking to and from the zoo, as you could experience day to day aspects of life in Abidjan. We had the opportunity to try some local cuisine and I was surprised how much I enjoyed the traditional Ivorian food."

Tina Deines

Tina Deines on the beach in the Ivory Coast during 2017 Abidjan trip.

"Working in the marketing department, I'd talked to Matt several times about this project but it was a completely different story traveling alongside the team this year. Our staff is so passionate and knowledgeable and I'm proud of the work we're doing in Abidjan. Although a bit of a culture shock at first, the country and people definitely left a mark on my heart too."

Learn more about the project here. 

Abidjan 2017 Trip

Images from the ABQ BioPark's 2017 trip to the Ivory Coast.


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