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Crocodiles Suffocated On Way To Wildlife Facility In Mexico

Feb 18, 2016 01:27 PM EST

More than 120 crocodiles belonging to wildlife company Cocodrilos Exoticos were found dead after crushing and suffocating one another during the company's 1,580 mile-long trip across Mexico. Cocodrilos Exoticos, a crocodile farm and conservation facility based in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo, could face a fine of up to $193,000 for failing to provide "dignified treatment" for the animals under wildlife protection laws, authorities said. 

Morelet's crocodiles (Crocodylus moreletiiare) are native to the eastern coastal plain of Mexico, across most of the Yucatan peninsula, and throughout Belize and northern Guatemala. They live primarily in freshwater areas such as swamps and marshes. Characterized by a broad snout and dark grayish-brow color, they are relatively small compared to other species. Full grown, they can reach 9.8 feet long. 

The 124 reptiles were among 350 of this type of crocodile from another farm, Cocodrilos Mexicanos, located in the northwestern Pacific coast state of Sinaloa. They were en route to their new home at the "Cocodrilia" wildlife conservation facility in the Caribbean coast town of Chetumal, which is owned and operated by Cocodrilos Exóticos.  

The crocodiles "presumably died from suffocation and being crushed during the trip," the state's environmental prosecutor's office said in a statement. Sadly, one of the crocodiles appeared to have its neck twisted. 

While Cocodrilos Exóticos had the necessary permits for the transfer of the crocodiles, the company failed to comply with the measures necessary to prevent overcrowding, stress, dignified and respectful treatment measures. In total, the company has acquired nearly 5,000 crocodiles from the Sinaloa farm. The company farms crocodiles for their meat, oil and skins-- which are used to make bags, shoes, belts, wallets, and other leather goods.

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