‘Star employee’ is honoured
Bendel “Bennie” Ebanks has been at the Turtle Farm long enough to watch crops of baby hatchling turtles mature into full adults.
“They’re basically my babies,” said the 45-year-old tour supervisor, who has worked at the Cayman Turtle Farm since 1986 – just a few years after the Cayman Islands government took over the operation of the facility.
On Friday, 22 July, Mr. Ebanks was honoured with a party at the Schooner’s Bar and Grill inside the facility. He’s not quite the longest serving employee at the facility, but he’s certainly one of them.
Plus, Mr. Ebanks might be awarded additional longevity points since his mom also worked at the farm, taking care of baby turtles in the 1970s.
“He’s a star employee,” said Turtle Farm Managing Director Tim Adam, who attended last Friday’s party.
Mr. Ebanks now works as a facility tour supervisor at the farm, but he came from humble beginnings.
“I started out taking the turtle food from the containers,” he said. “I fed the turtles, I hatched the turtles … I did some of everything.”
During the next two decades, Mr. Ebanks worked in several departments at the farm including the pharmacy and the butchery, selling turtle meat. He does eat turtle and can apparently make a mean turtle stew when called upon to do so.
He’s most proud of a breeding effort the Turtle Farm undertook in the mid-1990s with Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. The Kemp’s Ridley turtles are the worlds most endangered sea turtle species, less than 1,000 are known to exist in the world. At the time, there were 300 Kemp’s Ridley turtles at the Turtle Farm, of which 110 were sent to Mexico to bolster numbers and breeding.
“We were successful to breed the Kemp’s Ridleys here,” he said. “It’s one of my best memories from here.”
A few years ago, a former managing director noticed Mr. Ebanks giving a tour to some farm visitors.
“He said ‘I think we’ve got some good talent here’,” Mr. Ebanks said. Since then, he’s been the tour supervisor.
Mr. Ebanks has no thought of retiring anytime soon.
“I just love it,” he said. “I enjoy my job, I enjoy meeting people from different parts of the world.”