Lolong, the world’s largest crocodile in captivity, has reportedly died.
The death of the massive saltwater crocodile sent local villagers to tears in the southern Philippine town where the crocodile came to prominence, drawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from a massive increase in tourism.
The death of the world’s largest crocodile followed an attempt by a veterinarian that rush to the far-flung Bunawan town in Agusan del Sur province after reports of it flipping over with a bloated stomach on Sunday in its cage in an eco-tourism park. The crocodile was declared dead a few hours later, according to Bunawan town mayor Edwin Cox Elorde. The team of vets attempted to keep the crocodile alive through immersing it in lukewarm water amid the unusually cold weather
It remains unclear whether February’s cold streak played a role in the reptile’s condition and it remains unclear whether town officials will hold a ceremony in remembrance of the town’s most popular figure. A number of Filipinos took to social media on Sunday, suggesting that the country declare a national day of mourning. The crocodile was thought to be around 50 years old. A number of international experts have long expressed concern over how the stress of captivity may affect the animal’s well-being, although officials recently noted that the crocodile seemed in good spirits.
The crocodile has reportedly been removed from the eco-tourist environment. According to local reports, nearly one-hundred people, led by Elorde, turned out to transfer the crocodile from a creek using a rope, hoisting it by crane onto a truck.
Lolong, as the crocodile was known to local residents, gained worldwide fame in September 2011 after a three-week hunt due to a spate of attacks on local residents ended in its capture. The crocodile’s name came from a government environmental officer who died from a heart attack after traveling to Bunawan as part of an effort to capture the beast.
Lolong’s size, which measured 20 feet and four inches, made it an instant celebrity that drew thousands of visitors to the remote region. The crocodile holds the world record for largest crocodile in captivity.
The death of the crocodile follows a two year effort to remove the animal thought responsible for a young girl’s death at Agusan Marsh in early March 2009, and later the disappearance of a fisherman close to Bunawan Village.
The death of Lolong comes just months after local officials approved the building of a two mile road to the park to accommodate the influx of visitors.