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Do you know Big Joe? Here are some fun facts about our most famous resident:
- For many years, Big Joe—just over 15 feet long and weighing a whopping 1,200 pounds—was the biggest American Crocodile in captivity in Florida. When he died in 2003 at 75, people said it was because he’d had too much of the “good life”—too much food and not enough exercise to get it.
- Big Joe was caught by fishermen off Key Largo in 1936 and was about 5 years old at the time. Word has it that Lester Piper would pay fishermen for crocodiles, so they brought him here.
- The Pipers stuffed Big Joe and put him on display under glass, where he remained until 2013 when he was put into storage. Big Joe returned home to the Everglades Wonder Gardens on September 11, 2015.
- Big Joe’s original enclosure was right outside the door leading to the gardens, on the right. Today this space is a beautiful koi pond.
- Big Joe was not picky about what he ate: chicken, fish, or beef.
- Other notably large gators and crocs that lived here were Psycho, Crusher, Iron Head, Old Man, and Big Joe 2.
- A croc’s nostrils close when submerged in water, and they have a special flap in their throats to keep out water. They can’t stick out their tongues.
- Crocs are semi-aquatic and prefer saltwater habitats. They have webbed feet.
- Males grow larger than females. Each of their 80 teeth can be replaced up to 50 times during their lifetimes.