Monday, September 01, 2014

Florida Animals: The Good, the Bad, and the Nutty

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

Sorry for my absence.  I’ve been working 24/7 -- okay, maybe 12/7 --  finishing the first draft of the newest Jake Lassiter novel.  Now, I’m taking a breather.

Maybe you’ve been following the news about Florida's animals.  No, I’m not talking about James O. Born’s fraternity parties at F.S.U.  Trivia: Florida State was an all women’s college until shortly after World War II. Now it is proudly co-educational and even prouder of  its professional football team.

Ah!  Here’ a rare photo of Jim Born at one of those parties I mentioned.

But back to the other animals.  There’s Good News and Bad News.

Good News: Manatees Are Having Sex

The beleaguered Florida manatee (the “sea cow”) is making a comeback.  Despite all the idiots in power boats who run over the big, slow creatures in Florida waterways, the manatees have grown in numbers from a few hundred a half century ago to nearly 5,000 today.  The Associated Press reports that the species' designation may be changed from “endangered” to “threatened.”  That’s an improvement.

True confession.  I love manatees.  Not enough to date one, but I once had a manatee save Jake Lassiter’s life. How?   By allowing Jake to hitch a ride in an Everglades canal when he was being hunted down by bad guys in “Mortal Sin.”  

Bad News: Pancho is Dead

Pancho the crocodile is dead.

The blame rests with two Coral Gables partiers who did not win MacArthur genius grants.  This happened about a block from my old home in Gables by the Sea.  At two a.m., the couple jumped off a dock into a canal that is a protected crocodile sanctuary.  Guess what happened during their late-night swim.  A croc the locals call Pancho (they’re all tagged) bit them.  The two partiers sobered up fast and are fine now.

A couple days later, wildlife officials trapped Pancho in a net, intending to move him to the wilds. But he fought and fought...and died in the net.  Here’s Fabiola Santiago’s sad column in The Miami Herald.  And here’s the last photo of Pancho.

I can’t say I have the same warm feelings for crocodiles I do for manatees.  The crocs eat neighborhood dogs and cats that wander too close to the canal.  But then, the crocodiles were there first.  And I hate to see magnificent creatures killed through homo sapiens' stupidity.  It's just a damn shame.

Finally, it’s land crab migration season in South Florida.  These came out of the same mangroves that flank that Gables by the Sea canal where Pancho roamed.  Try not to run over them.  They can puncture your tires.

Paul Levine


  1. Three perfectly good reasons why you should have never left L.A., although I'll admit, manatees and Jim Born are both adorable.

    Welcome back!

  2. James O. Born9/02/2014 2:06 PM

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  3. James O. Born9/02/2014 2:07 PM

    I would've trapped the two partiers and let them die in a net before I let anything happen to the crocodile. We need to start getting tougher with dumb asses or, at least, not making everyone else pay the price. That is my rant for today.