Philippines Sheds Crocodile Tears for Lolong, the World’s Largest Reptile in Captivity

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 11, 2013 10:29 AM EST

The cash cow of the Philippine province of Agusan del Sur, the world's largest crocodile in captivity, is gone. The capture of Lolong in 2011 placed the once sleepy province in world map which provided income for the local government because of tourists.

Unfortunately, at 8 p.m. on Feb 10, Lolong died in his pen. Experts have found that its left stomach is bloated even if Lolong has not been eating his usual meal late last month. Dr. Alex Collantes of the Davao Crocodile Park in Davao City was requested to check on the reptile early in Sunday before Lolong died. Keepers have not given out any reasons why Dr. Collantes has been summoned to check Lolong.

Another report said the reptile swallowed nylon cord which may explain the bloated stomach.

Agusan del Norte Mayor Edwin said that Lolong had no more signs of life as of 8:12 Sunday night. He said that officials from the Protect Areas and Wildlife Bureau will perform a necropsy on the animal. The province plans to ask the National Museum to help preserve Lolong's remains.

Lolong measured 20.24 feet and approximately weighs 2,370 pounds. The reptile was captured by around 100 people in 3 weeks time.

He was recognised as the world's biggest crocodile in captivity" by the Guinness Book of Records after six month waiting for the visit and confirmation from Australian zoologist and crocodile expert Dr. Adam Britton.

Lolong grabbed the title in June 2012 from the previous record-holder, Cassius, a male saltwater crocodile kept in the crocodile park of Marinel and Melanesia in Queensland, Australia.

Agusan del Sur, where Lolong was held in captivity, benefit from the public display of the largest reptile. Many tourists and enthusiast went to the province and visited Lolong, which boosted the poor province's coffers. In the official website of Agusan del Sur, Lolong dominates the web page including the news of his condition after the Typhoon Pablo hit land and the provincial mayor's opposition for Lolong to be transferred to Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City, a part of the metropolitan Manila.

If Lolong would have survived longer, the local government unit will embark on 200-million peso development project for the Bunawan Eco-Park and Research Center through a private-public-partnership, Bunawan Media Affairs coordinator Welinda Asis-Elorde said, which would have further improved Agusan's finances.

There has been a debate even before Lolong's death if the reptile should be kept in captivity since a pen is not the crocodile's natural habitat. However, there are concerns that releasing Lolong may endanger more lives as the reptile was suspected of having eaten several people from the province.

While Lolong may be gone, political pundits note that his relatives - the human variety often clad in barong tagalog or a suit - still roam freely in the halls of the Philippine Congress in reference to legislators being viewed as greedy for power and wealth. The Pilipino street term for a greedy person is buwaya, which is also the local word for crocodile.

Meanwhile, for those interested in real crocodiles - those that are four-legged - the Philippine province of Palawan has a crocodile farm where Lolong's other relatives could be viewed.

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