Nature "Invasion of the Giant Pythons" on WXXI-TV

Nature "Invasion of the Giant Pythons" on WXXI-TV

Sun, 02/21/2010 - 8:00pm

A giant python swallows an alligator in Florida’s Everglades National Parks.

Credit: ©Paul Zenk

NATURE investigates a growing crisis — invasive predatory constrictors transforming the Everglades protected wilderness into their personal killing field.

Florida’s Everglades National Park is one of the last great wildlife refuges in the United States, home to numerous unique and endangered mammals, trees, plants, birds and turtles, as well as half a million alligators. However, the Everglades is also the dumping ground for many animal invaders — more than 15 species of parrot, 75 kinds of fish and 30 different reptiles — from places as far away as Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. All of the intruders found their way into the park either by accidental escape from pet owners or intentional release by people no longer wishing to care for an exotic species. Add to the mix tens of thousands of giant pythons, snakes that can grow to 20 feet and weigh nearly 300 pounds, some released into the wild by irresponsible pet owners, some escapees from almost 200 wildlife facilities destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The predatory pythons slithered into this protected wilderness and thrived, and the refuge has consequently become less a haven than a killing ground every day since then. Nature "Invasion of the Giant Pythons" airs Sunday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).