FIFTEEN MINUTES (AT LEAST) OF FAME FOR "DAMON THE CAIMAN"
It was the talk of the town: a big toothed, scaly skinned alligator on the loose in Central Park. For one week, a gator-crazed city watched anxiously to see what would happen to the reptile in the park. The mayhem began Saturday, June 16, when an off duty police officer and his two children spotted the displaced creature in the Harlem Meer.
One week after the initial sighting, Mike and Tina Bailey, "alligator wrestlers" from Florida, traveled to New York to rescue the reptile. On the night of Thursday, June 21 at 9:20 p.m., the couple began their search. Reporters, cameramen, and Parkies held their breaths. Within the hour, Mike Bailey had spotted the speckled caiman offshore. Effortlessly, Tina lifted the two-foot creature out of the water and handed him to Mike, who properly identified it as a caiman, a species of crocodile unheard of in Central Park, but common to Central and South American wetlands. Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern did his part, naming the animal formerly known as an alligator, "Damon the Caiman".
The caiman was transported to the Central Park Zoo where it was evaluated and taken into custody by the Wildlife Conservation Society. After Damon's day in the spotlight, he will enjoy peace and quiet away from an inquisitive pubic.
The Urban Park Rangers, the Central Park Conservancy, and the Wildlife Conservation Society were helpful-at all hours of the day and night-in finding a safe home for Damon.
By Brenna (Tuscany) Sevano
STATEN ISLAND ANIMAL RESCUE MISSION
Just as a baby gator was skimming the surface of the Harlem Meer, a small turtle, the size of a grown man's hand, was trapped between two pipes in Clove Lake in Clove Lakes Park in Staten Island. Three Parkies, James McMahon, Stanley (Chainlink) Rapp, and Fred Renschler, spotted its shell first Friday, June 15. The turtle was drifting through the lake's aerator, which they had come to fix. When the turtle saw the Parkies, it disappeared from view. The next Monday, Fred Reschler opened the lid to the aerator's vault and the turtle was belly up, stuck.
Stanley Rappy reports that his colleague immediately stepped three feet into the aerator. He supported himself on a pipe and reached toward the turtle. The vault, which screens debris and mud, was slick with algae and smelled "like a dead fish market." It had yet to be cleaned with a "mud sucker pump," but Fred paid the odor no mind. He took the turtle in his palm, climbed out of the vault, and led the animal toward the water. Stanley describes the scene: "as he was getting closer to the lake, you could almost see the turtle duck its head down toward the water." Fred opened his hand, and watched the turtle shell disappear under the surface. Stanley commented, "I'm sure there are turtles that die everyday, but for us, this was something great." Congratulations, Fred, and thank-you for your heroics. Just goes to show-New Yorkers can save reptiles too.
THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Tuesday, June 28, 1988)
PROSPECT PARK'S ORIENTAL PAVILION
AND LULLWATER BRIDGE RESTORED
Sights and sounds from the Far East filled the Concert Grove in Prospect Park, Brooklyn a week ago Saturday, when a Festival of the Orient was held to celebrate the $1.3 million capital restoration of the Oriental Pavilion and the $1.6 million restoration of the nearby Lullwater Bridge.
The pavilion, built in 1874 and destroyed by fire a century later, was perfectly dressed for the occasion. Colorful Oriental banners and Japanese carp decorations hung from the filigreed steel roof, which is supported by eight olive, blue, pink and orange castiron posts modeled aftere medieval Hindu columns.
QUOTES ABOUT CROCS
"Leave a log in the water as long as you like: it will never be a crocodile."
"How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!"
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)