Chinese group learns about alligators at LSU AgCenter

Olivia McClure  |  9/13/2017 3:29:36 PM

(09/12/17) BATON ROUGE, La. — A group of Chinese crocodile farmers, tanners and others who work in the industry visited the LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station and Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising during a trip to Louisiana from Sept. 6 to 8.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries organized the tour. The 10 visitors are from Hunan Province, which is located in southeast China and is one of the country’s most populous provinces.

“They want to see how we farm and manage the American alligator because they want to improve their farming practices,” said Amity Bass, director of the LDWF Coastal and Nongame Resources Division. “People do look to the U.S. as an example.”

Alligators and crocodiles are closely related — both belong to the Crocodilia taxonomic order — but have key differences, including physical traits and habitat preferences.

While at the aquaculture station on Sept. 7, the group heard about alligator nutrition, management practices and other topics being studied at the AgCenter. Station director Robert Reigh led a tour of the facilities, where they saw young alligators that are part of research projects.

“The AgCenter’s alligator research facility is a unique asset — the only one of its kind in the U.S.,” Reigh said. “Nutrition research has been a focus of the program in recent years, but work is expanding into other areas, too, as alligator producers recommend projects to address their needs.”

Phil Elzer, AgCenter associate vice president for animal sciences and natural resources, participated in the tour.

“We are always happy to host international groups and exchange ideas with them about important research topics,” Elzer said. “This particular visit was an opportunity to improve our partnership with China as well as the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.”

The visitors, some of whom work in the fashion industry, also met with Chuanlan Liu, an associate professor in the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising. Liu’s work includes an LDWF-supported project on integrating alligator skins into LSU students’ clothing designs.

“The LSU AgCenter and LDWF have a long relationship of collaborating on American alligator research,” Bass said. “Their research provides vital information regarding the nutritional requirements of alligators and how to sustain those in a farm environment. Research has also looked into the usage of alligator byproducts for pharmaceutical applications.”

Other stops on the trip included meetings with LDWF personnel and industry professionals in Louisiana.

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A group of Chinese crocodile farmers, tanners and others who work in the industry pose for a photo in the lobby of the LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station in Baton Rouge before touring the facilities on Sept. 7, 2017. They are pictured with station director Robert Reigh, far left; Amity Bass, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Coastal and Nongame Resources Division director, at left in the first row wearing green shirt; and Phil Elzer, LSU AgCenter associate vice president, far right in the back row. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

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Robert Reigh, director of the LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station, left, listens as a visitor asks questions about alligators on Sept. 7, 2017. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

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Visitors to the LSU AgCenter Aquaculture Research Station look at alligators in a tank on Sept. 7, 2017. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

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