Lolong, the world’s largest crocodile in captivity, has died in a man-made lake of a mystery illness.
The 21-foot, one-ton saltwater crocodile was captured less than 18 months ago in the southern Philippines.
Lolong, more than 50 years old, was found lying upside down in his enclosure in an eco-tourism park. He swallowed a nylon cord about three weeks ago and had nonstop diarrhea, The Philippine Star reported.
Lolong had been blamed for the deaths of several fishermen, who invaded his natural habitat.
Then he was captured by thirty men in September 2011, who used a dead pig as bait and threw steel cables over Lolong in the marshes near the town of Bunawan.
A tractor was needed to haul Lolong onto a trailer, but not before local people posed for photos with the captured animal.
Since then, Lolong has been a star attraction at the tourism park and raked in money for the town.
Many residents were in tears after learning that Lolong had died.
"We don’t know what happened to it," said Mayor Edwin Elorde. "Its death is a complete mystery and I have to admit that I’m really depressed. I’ve come to love that crocodile. It brought fame and fortune to our town and, in a small way, to the Philippines."
"We were planning to build a special road leading to the park because we were getting so many tourists, but now I’m not so sure whether we will proceed with it. Perhaps the plan will go ahead if we can catch more crocodiles, there are many more out there, but I can’t say whether they will have the same appeal as Lolong. You only had to see him and you’d stand there staring as if under a spell."
The region has been hit by unusually cold weather this month and Alex Collantes, a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles, suggested this might have had something to do with Lolong's death.
However, Mayor Elorde said that there are now plans to have Lolong stuffed and put on display for a profit.
"I think it might still attract people even in death because it is such an enormous creature. I think even the locals who have seen it when it was alive will come back They aren’t going to let him slip from their memories, of that I’m sure."
Source: The Philippine Star