SEAN GALLAGHER, FOR THE PULITZER CENTER, ANHUI PROVINCE, CHINA
This week I travel to the province of Anhui, situated in the Yangtze River basin west of Shanghai. I travel to this region to begin the chapter of my work on the effects of wetland disappearance on animal species in China.
As way of introduction to this chapter, I recently interviewed Joe Abene, a long-time alligator researcher who worked for the Bronx Zoo in New York for many years and is an expert on the Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensis), a species which is on the brink of extinction in the wild.
This first post serves as an introduction to the plight of the Chinese alligator. Later this week, I travel to the Anhui Research Center of Chinese Alligator Reproduction to report on the work being done there to save the species.
How and when did you originally become involved in the plight of the Chinese Alligator?
My love of Chinese/Yangtze alligators started at the Bronx zoo, where I worked in the reptile house for 15 years. The curator, John Behler, and the previous supervisor, Peter Brazaitis, had already been trail blazers in crocodilian conservation and Chinese alligators were a species they showed special interest in. By the time I started working at the zoo, the staff there had already been instrumental in the first captive breeding of the species in the USA. During my time at the zoo, I participated in the care of a large group of captive Yangtze alligators. Mr. Behler was the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan coordinator for the species, and when he passed away, I took over the position.