World’s largest crocodile dies
PHILIPPINES: The world’s largest saltwater crocodile in
captivity has died in the Philippines, 17 months after the suspected
man-eater was hunted down and put on display for tourists, his
caretakers said Monday.
“Lolong”, who measured 6.17 metres (20.24 feet), died on Sunday night
from a mystery illness inside his small enclosure in Bunawan, a
backwater town in the country’s remote south.
“This is a very, very sad day for us. He had brought fame to our
town. We are now thinking of having his remains preserved,” town
spokeswoman Welinda Elorde told AFP.
A government-sanctioned hunting party caught Lolong in a sprawling
marsh close to Bunawan in September 2011 after it was suspected of
biting the head off a young school girl and of eating a fisherman.
Its capture made the town famous and Lolong, named after a local
crocodile hunter, became a big tourist attraction.
But it also put the spotlight on the plight of the crocodiles in the
Philippines’ remote marshes and rivers, as human habitation increasingly
put them in conflict with the animals.
Animal rights groups also demanded Lolong be released back into the
wild, arguing that the pen that held him was too small and stressful for
an animal used to roaming great distances.
But Elorde said caretakers tried to give Lolong everything he needed
in captivity, and that releasing him would have left him in the mercy of
villagers who would hunt and kill him.
“We tried to give him the best place we could,” she said. The
Philippine Star newspaper reported Monday that Lolong had been ailing
since swallowing a cord three weeks ago, a claim Elorde denied.
“We have been alternately feeding him with meat and poultry, and
there was no way he could have eaten anything other than that,” she
said. The Guinness Book of World Records last year officially declared
Lolong the largest crocodile of its kind in captivity.