The Emerald Coast Zoo recently acquired three Nile crocodiles. They are the only Nile crocodiles in the panhandle of Florida.
CRESTVIEW — The Emerald Coast Zoo recently added three new Nile crocodiles to its list of animals on display.
The crocodiles, one male and two females, were acquired from a friend of zoo owner Rick de Ridder.
"My friend has an alligator and crocodile farm in South Florida," de Ridder said. "He needed to move them because they were getting beat up by the bigger ones."
The new additions to the zoo are the only Nile crocodiles found in the panhandle of Florida, de Ridder said. Nile crocodiles are normally found in Africa and can grow to be over 20 feet long.
The three crocodiles are the first crocodiles to live at the zoo. Prior to acquiring them, the zoo only had an alligator.
According to de Ridder, the Nile crocodiles are one of the only animals that hunt humans so they don’t fear humans like alligators do. They also have the strongest bite power of any animal, with 4,000 pounds of pressure per square inch.
"I like that the kids can see what the difference is between the alligators and crocodiles," de Ridder said. "I tell kids all the time that God made these animals exactly right."
Currently, the three crocodiles are in an enclosure next to the lion and the tiger. The zoo is working on building them a larger enclosure next to the alligator. De Ridder hopes to have the enclosure ready within the next couple of weeks.
In thinking long-term, de Ridder hopes to be able to watch the crocodiles grow before breeding them.
"If we could breed them right here in Crestview, Florida, how cool would that be?" de Ridder said.