Amsterdam 'Crocodile King' and gay circus icon dies from cancer at age 54
Ferry Torrez, a Dutch artist and animal trainer known for his passion for reptiles, passed away at the age of 54 on April 28 after a battle with cancer. His father announced the news on Facebook.
Ferry, who lived in Amsterdam-Oost, famously kept crocodiles in an enclosure at the back of his garden. He also owned snakes and tarantulas. Throughout his life, he traveled across Europe, performing in circuses and events with his collection of animals. In 2010, he notably took part in the first gay circus in the Netherlands, ANP reported at the time.
In recent years, Ferry expanded his work to include educational shows, sharing his knowledge and passion for reptiles with audiences of all ages. “He had friends everywhere, not just in Amsterdam, but all over the world,” said his father Frank Torrez, who spoke with NL Times. “He was very much loved, just look at all the comments on Facebook!”
Ferry was not only known for his love of reptiles but also as an icon in the Amsterdam leather fetish gay scene. His father said that reactions following the announcement of his death poured in from across the globe. “I’m still trying to answer everyone,” he remarked.
Torrez was also involved in a controversy in 2017, making headlines when his crocodiles were discovered guarding a large sum of drug money. He said that he was unaware of this situation. He faced prosecution for allegations that he was involved in a money laundering scheme, but he was not brought up on drug trafficking charges.
Ferry will be cremated on Monday in Amsterdam. His father expects a large turnout, saying, "It's going to be very busy. We don't have enough seats."
Following the cremation, there will be a celebration of Ferry's life at the Spijkerbar, the city's oldest gay bar. According to Steven Koudijs, owner of the bar where Ferry worked as a bouncer during the pandemic, this was his wish. "The show must go on. That was his motto," he told AT5.
Before he passed away, Ferry ensured that his reptiles would be well cared for. His father explained that he found “good homes” for all his animals all across Europe a few months ago once he could no longer care for them.
"He arranged everything," his father said. "This was the most important thing to him."