Lolong, the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) that was for a short time the largest saltwater crocodile in captivity died from stress and organ failure due to a lack of good husbandry practices. According to Philippine news site Rappler, the failure by the mayor of the Philippine town in which Lolong was kept, to follow explicit instructions from the country's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) on how to properly care for the reptile led to its demise.
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Lolong the saltwater crocodile died from inadequate care. Photo courtesy Rappler
Lolong, a 20-foot, 2,370 pound Crocodylus porosus was kept in an enclosure that was akin to a kiddie pool. It was not deep enough or big enough for the crocodile to swim in, and the sheer weight of the crocodile resting on the concrete bottom of the pool crushed its internal organs. The concrete also caused the crocodile to lose most of its upper teeth as well as the claws on its feet.
PAWB Director Dr. Mundita Lim said from the time the crocodile was captured, there were two options that the mayor of the town, Edwin Elorde was supposed to have followed: facilitate the transfer of the crocodile to a larger enclosure or release it back into the marsh in which it was captured, if a section of the marsh could be declared a sanctuary for crocodiles. The report says that Elorde did neither and regarded the crocodile as his personal property.
Instead, the report says Elorde created what he called an "ecotourism" attraction with Lolong as the main attraction, charging 20 pesos a day (about $US 0.50) to view the croc in its enclosure, and more money to drain the enclosure to get a better view of the crocodile. This practice of constantly draining the enclosure, which was too small to begin with, also stressed the animal. The croc remained in the same tiny enclosure with an equally tiny pond that Lim says was built for an animal half the size of Lolong.
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"The enclosure was not big enough for him, the pond not big or deep enough for him to swim around," Lim told Rappler. However, the PAWB which was tasked to ensure that the local government followed its instructions also failed to monitor the mayor's promise to build a larger enclosure for the crocodile.
Dr. Angel Alcala, a saltwater crocodile expert and former Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary in the Philippines said that these animals should never be removed from their natural habitat under any circumstances.
"At this present time, considering the number of these animals in the wild, they should not anymore be captured, removed from their natural habitat and placed in an enclosure," Alcala told Rappler. "You will be putting too much stress and shortening their life," Alcala said. Alcala said that potential man eating or "nuisance" crocodiles should be left alone in their domain, where visitors can observe them safely rather than displaying them in an enclosure.
The largest saltwater crocodile in captivity has now reverted back to Cassius, an Australian crocodile that claimed the title in 2011. Cassius, estimated to be more than 100 years old, is 17 ft, 11 inches in length and has been in captivity for 26 years.