Gerardo Valeriano Ortega(August 28, 1963 – January 24, 2011), better known simply as "Doc Gerry" or "Ka Gerry", was a Filipino journalist, veterinarian, politician,environmental activist, and community organizer best known for his work to promote crocodile farming in the Philippines, and for his advocacy against mining on the island of Palawan. Ortega has often been lauded as a hero of the Philippine Environment since he was assassinated on January 24, 2011, allegedly due to his anti-mining advocacy. Doc Gerry was the son of Rafael “Totoy" Ortega, who was the Municipal Mayor of Aborlan, in the island province of Palawan. He earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Gregorio Araneta University Foundation near Manila.
In 1988 Ortega began working at the Crocodile Farming Institute (since renamed the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center but still known widely and referred to below as the Crocodile Farm or CFI) in Irawan, Puerto Princesa, Palawan. In 1989, he became the institute's director. At the time, many thought the Crocodile Farm project, which was run by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, would never succeed. But Ortega and his team made it not only viable but globally known. Ortega and his team at the CFI also received considerable media attention caught the largest saltwater crocodile in the country.
In 1993 the CFI came up with the idea of farming out their crocodiles. The idea sparked considerable interest, and over 80 potential crocodile farmers applied.Nineteen of these were in attendance on February 1 to 3, 1999, when Ortega hosted the “Orientation on the Establishment of Crocodile Farms in the Philippines.” After screening applicants, the CFI gave 6 crocodile farmers their first crocodiles in early 2000. Ortega's initiative thus represented the birth of the crocodile industry in the Philippines.
An alligator farm or crocodile farm is an establishment for breeding and raising of crocodilians in order to produce meat, leather, and other goods. Many species of both alligators and crocodiles are farmed internationally.Though not truly domesticated, alligators and crocodiles have been bred in farms since at least the early 20th century. However, the vast majority of these early businesses were farms in name only; primarily keeping alligators and crocodiles as a tourist attraction. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, established in 1893, is a prime example of this early type of alligator farm. Only in the 1960s did commercial operations that either harvested eggs from the wild or bred alligators on-site begin to appear. This was largely driven by diminishing stocks of wild alligators, which had been hunted nearly to extinction around this time. As the American Alligator was placed under official protection in 1967 (under a law preceding the 1973 Endangered Species Act) farming alligators for skins became the most viable option for producing leather (aside from illegal poaching).
Mostly concentrated in the Southern U.S. states of Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia, the practice quickly spread to other nations. Both the American and Chinese Alligator are farmed intensively today, mostly within each species' respective native region. The Nile crocodile is found in ranches all over Africa, and the Saltwater crocodile is farmed in Australia and other areas. The smaller caimans are generally not of enough market value to farm, though some captive breeding of the spectacled caiman does take place in South America. Farming alligators and crocodiles first grew out of the demand for skins, which can fetch hundreds of dollars a piece. But alligator and crocodile meat, which was long a part of Southern cooking (especially Cajun cuisine) and some Asian and African cuisines, began to be sold later and shipped around the world to markets unfamiliar with crocodilian meat. Chinese cuisine based on traditional Chinese medicine considers alligator meat to be a curative food for colds and cancer prevention, although there is no scientific evidence to support this.
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