Critter Profile: Gabby!

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Critter Profile: Gabby!



Name: Gabby

Species: Gavial gangeticus (Gharial)

Primary Caretaker: Terrestrial Team, Saanvi Varma

Diet: Fish (cooked by a gourmet chef), crabs (cooked by a gourmet chef), softshell turtles

Housed: Wilson Wildlife Center, Enclosure 37

Creature Features!

Saanvi here to introduce our gluttonous grandoise gourmand of a gharial (all terms used endearingly), Gabby! Gabby here is a particularly rare specimen of a particularly rare species of crocodilian from India, called the gharial. You see those radical looking jaws of hers? There are few mouths in this fascinating world of ours better suited to hooking them some tasty fish! Gharials aren't into that highfalutin chewing, swallowing their food whole instead, and Gabby here isn't an exception. Clever if a bit snooty girl that she is though, Gabby doesn't even bother trying to swallow food she doesn't want.

And the food she wants, well, only the finest stuff! Little miss Gabby isn't about that predation life. While she loves eating, unlike basically any other animal out there, this high standards gal is only into cooked foods, and the fancy stuff at that! She's our very own gourmet diner!

We've had to hire a professional chef to prepare her fancy fish and crab dishes, because she just won't eat anything else. She wants something different every day too, and if we didn't get the leftovers of whatever the chef makes her I'm not sure we'd be able to budget it! It sure is something seeing a gharial slurp up crab bisque, but it's also pretty charming. She's real smart about the whole thing too, always being sure to nod approvingly and wag her tail if it meets her standards. She's a regular little food critic!

When she ends up swallowing something she doesn't want though, something pretty darn dramatic happens. She ends up spitting it back out, and when she does, if it wasn't alive when it went in… it's alive when it goes out! Basically, if you feed her any kind of food she doesn't want, she basically opens those jaws of her so wide they're vertical and spits out a whole live whatever that food was! If you feed her a fish fillet, she throws up a flopping fish, and we tested it with a few other bits too. Lemme tell you, my heart nearly stopped when a very panicked cow came tumbling out of that mouth of hers! And if what you feed her has the bits of several critters in it, like a mix of chicken and beef, she'll produce some real funky stuff.

I like to think it's her way of saying "this isn't worthy of being my food so it isn't worthy of being food at all!!!", because she really is that cute and prissy.


We found Gabby not in India, where virtually all of her critically endangered brothers and sisters live, but in upstate New York of all places! She just showed up out of the blue one day, swimming out of the Hudson River like she'd been there her whole life. And wouldn't you know it, our spoiled little girl here caused quite a bit of trouble!

First thing she did was break into a seafood restaurant, one of them fancy Michelin Star ones, and gobble up everything she could find! That's seemingly the first time that funky thing with her mouth happened, and boy were things chaotic with chicken/fish and cow/fish hybrids flopping all over the place!

And then, somehow, she managed to make her way to a live broadcast of some Food Network cooking show and mosey around there before we managed to wrangle her! Apparently she went right for where them fancy food critics were sitting; I guess she recognized her own kind.

After cleaning up the whole mess and running a bunch of tests to figure out how her whole deal with the eating and the spitting out works, the Supervisors let us keep her. It was a bit of a surprise, since her mouth thing is just a little more unusual than the guys we normally keep, but I guess it's cause it only happens if she eats things she doesn't want, which we'd never let happen.

Surprisingly enough, after all the trouble she's caused, she's settled in real nicely. Real lazy, real sedentary, and real well-behaved, as long as she's fed what she wants. I reckon she only caused so much trouble cause she was hankering for her favorite foods! She's real darn low maintenance, aside from the whole giving her food fancier than what most rich people probably even eat part.

Special Needs and Accommodations!

Enclosure 37 is perfectly suited for her, modeled after gharial exhibits here in the states! A lot of water, since she spends most of her time in it, and some nice sand for her to bask on. She is fussier than most critters about her water though; she likes it nice and clean, and in general tends to get a bit uppity if the enclosure isn't cleaned to some real high standards. Honestly, she really is a bit spoiled.

As for special needs, aforementioned bit about only feeding her fancy stuff like chili crab and fish curry, and varying it. Also, when you present her food, she likes to take her time and eat it nice and slow like, and the weirdest thing is, she usually wants the chef who made it in front of her while she eats! Took her a while to communicate that of course, but he's always happy to accommodate.

Also, if she ever ends up not liking what she eats, be prepared to deal with some fish or crabs or fish crabs flopping around! And never ever let her eat anything else, seriously! I've still got nightmares about when some beef accidentally found its way into one of her crab dishes!

Notes about Gabby!

We named her Gabby once we found about her taste for the finer things, after one of the judges on a Food Network show we all used to watch, Gabriel something. Kind of a sad story that, poor guy always seemed real down whenever he wasn't eating and reviewing what he was eating, and just generally seemed pretty detached from everything around him. He'd retired a few weeks before we found Gabby, and I hope it'd cheer him up to know we've got our very own special girl following in his footsteps!

Oh, and incidentally, Gabby seems kind of not fond of the Supervisors whenever they visit, she usually tries to hide or even gets aggressive. It's kind of weird. Maybe it has something to do with that time they fed her some monkey, I think it was, during testing? Weirdest thing, she didn't spit out anything, but she was real sullen and agitated the rest of the day afterwards like she didn't like it.

I wonder what that was about.

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