Published: April 2, 2014 (Issue # 1804)
A baby African crocodile discovered in a St. Petersburg yard in early March may be adopted by organizations tied to the local government, the head of a local quarantine center told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday.
“We may keep the crocodile if someone takes responsibility for it,” said Tatyana Skvortsova, director of the Leningrad region quarantine center Veles.
Veles is a private organization for the housing, treatment, rehabilitation and quarantine of wild animals, and it operates partly on donations and the work of volunteers, according to its website.
“There are organizations linked to the St. Petersburg government that have shown a willingness [to sponsor the crocodile],” Skvortsova said, without naming the organizations.
Alternatively, the animal may go to one of two zoos in other cities, which have also said they were interested in taking the crocodile in. Most likely, Veles will give the crocodile to its new home free of charge, she said.
“But we will not hand the animal over to private hands, that is for certain — even if someone asks for it, because a crocodile is not suited for it,” Skvortsova said.
Before being transferred anywhere, the animal has to undergo a quarantine and more medical examinations, which can take up to a month.
Veles employees have been regularly posting information about the crocodile’s appetite, weight and sleep on the center’s VKontakte page, as well as photos of the animal.
“He is eating well, has gotten used to his new home and is already defending it,” Veles founder Alexander Fyodorov wrote in his latest post about the crocodile on Friday.
A video of the crocodile posted on VKontakte earlier that day showed the crocodile, named Gena Grazhdansky, lying on a brick near a small pool and hissing at the camera before jumping into water.
The crocodile appeared to be several dozen centimeters long, just as when he was found by janitors beside garbage cans in a local courtyard on Mar. 4.
The animal may have gotten into a trash bag and been thrown away by accident, a municipal housing official told RIA Novosti later that week.
Alternatively, the crocodile could have been brought to Russia as an egg, which its owners could have mistaken for an ostrich egg and thrown away after seeing that what hatched out didn’t look like a bird, experts at the local zoo said, local news website Fontanka.ru reported. The news report did not comment on the relative strangeness of hatching an ostrich.
The local zoo and aquarium at first refused to take the beast, with the zoo officials saying it would grow to be three to four meters long and the zoo’s premises had no capacities to keep such a big animal, Fontanka.ru reported.
The African — or Nile — crocodile is the biggest of the three types of crocodiles that inhabit Africa. It grows to become four to six meters long, weighing up to 500 kilograms and can develop a land speed of 12 to 14 kilometers per hour.
A VKontakte user asked the center’s employees this week what they were planning to do with the crocodile when it reaches a length of 2 1/2 meters within a year. Veles creative director Olga Berezina replied that they were planning to love the animal.