“I see you; you see me”: How a crocodile sanctuary can teach us to create a more sustainable future with our cohabitants.


Mackenzie Stinson

Faculty Mentor(s)

Daniel Beck (Biological Sciences), Rodrigo Tenteria-Valencia


Mexico is a diverse and wonderful place for cultures, biospheres, and organisms. Along the Costalegre region of Jalisco there is a vast expanse of habitat called the Chamela-Cuixmala Reserve. Located just south of the reserve is El Cocodrilario de La Manzanilla. El Cocodrilario means crocodile sanctuary, and at just over one 260 hectares, there isn’t much free space to spare for nearly 500 hatchlings to fully grown crocodiles. It is operated by a local cocodrilo enthusiast, Pepe Martinez, and was granted its space through the dictation of land action by the Mexican ejido system. Any visiting tourist can pay a fee and experience these behemoths gliding through the water under their feet, view them from a lofty sight tower, and even hold baby crocodiles guided by skilled biologists. El Cocodrilario encourages its municipal locals to visit at a mere fraction of the price in an effort to spread educational material and awareness about this widely feared reptile. This paper analyzes how the use of space balances a close, intimate understanding of crocodiles with a respectful distance and admiration for these creatures. Multiple intersections of bio-tourism, conservation, and preservation create the Cocodrilario’s unique environment. The integration of all three provide the resources for people to become educated about animals in a way that promotes a sustainable relationship between people and one of the world’s oldest apex predators.

Keywords: Sustainability, Conservation, Respect, Academic Service Learning, Diversity


9 thoughts on ““I see you; you see me”: How a crocodile sanctuary can teach us to create a more sustainable future with our cohabitants.”

  1. Wonderful! I love the way you brought the presentation together as a journey through understanding and fear. Well done Mackenzie! Brings back some great memories.

  2. Stephanie Bartlett

    Hi Mackenzie!
    I really enjoyed your presentation, and I feel like this is an incredibly important topic. I personally agree with your idea of needing to establish fear, respect, and a definite connection with other predators. Otherwise places like El Cocodrilario de La Manzanilla and zoos may eventually be the only places we will be able to see crocodiles.

    Stephanie Bartlett

    If you are ever in south-central Colorado you should check out Colorado Gators Reptile Rescue. I used to live nearby, and I loved visiting. They have geothermally heated water and lots of sunshine, so in the winter you can see alligators hanging out in the sun on top of snow. I think they only had one or two crocodiles the last time I went though. This place made me hopeful that more and more places like this will be established, so it was really nice to get a glimpse of another facility with similar goals of protecting reptiles in mind.

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