Lolong (died 10 February 2013) was the largest crocodile in captivity. He was an Indo-Pacific or saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) measured at 20 ft 3 in (6.17 m), and weighed 2,370 lbs (1,075 kg), making him one of the largest crocodiles ever measured from snout-to-tail.
In November 2011, Australian crocodile expert Dr. Adam Britton of National Geographic sedated and measured Lolong in his enclosure and confirmed him as the world's largest crocodile ever caught and placed in captivity.
Lolong died in captivity at around 8 pm on 10 February 2013.
Capture and habitat
Lolong was caught in a Bunawan creek in the province of Agusan del Sur in the Philippines on 3 September 2011. He was captured with the joint cooperation of the local government unit, residents, and crocodile hunters of Palawan. The giant crocodile was hunted over a period of three weeks; once it was found, it took around 100 people to bring him onto land. He became aggressive at several points during the capture, and twice broke restraining ropes before eventually being properly secured. He was estimated to be at least 50 years old.
Lolong was suspected of eating a fisherman who went missing in the town of Bunawan, and also of consuming a 12-year-old girl whose head was discovered two years earlier. He was also the primary suspect in the disappearance of water buffaloes in the area. In the examination of the stomach contents after his capture, no remnants of water buffaloes reported missing before Lolong's capture were found, nor human remains.
The nongovernmental organization activist Animal Kingdom Foundation Inc., with the cooperation of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, had urged the local government of Bunawan to return Lolong to the creek of barangay Nueva Era, where the giant reptile was captured. But, in an ongoing debate, Bunawan mayor Edwin "Cox" Elorde and residents of the barangay opposed the crocodile's release, arguing that he would threaten individuals living in the vicinity of the creek.
The crocodile was named after Ernesto "Lolong" Goloran Cañete, one of the veteran crocodile hunters from the Palawan Crocodile and Wildlife Reservation Center, who led the hunt. After weeks of stalking, the hunt for Lolong took its toll on Cañete's health. He died of a heart attack several days before the crocodile was captured.
Captivity and display
Bunawan made Lolong the centerpiece of an ecotourism park for species found in the marshlands near the township. Mayor Elorde said, "We will take care of this crocodile because this will boost our tourism and we know it can help in terms of town's income and jobs to our village communities."
The giant crocodile was kept in an enclosure (which was in poor condition) in the Bunawan Ecopark and Wildlife Reservation Center in Barangay Consuelo located 8 km from town. The exhibit was opened to the public on 17 September 2011, after permission was received from the Palawan Wildlife and Conservation Center. The Bunawan Municipal Council recently passed an ordinance regulating and imposing fees on gate entrance, parking, and other fees at the ecopark where the celebrity giant crocodile resided in captivity.
Although the ecopark has a 20-peso entrance fee for adults and less for the children, these proceeds will be used for park maintenance and Lolong's food. The Bunawan Ecopark is also incurring expenses for electricity, maintenance, and other incidental expenses, such as installation of CCTV cameras. According to Bunawan Mayor Elorde, up to 26 October 2011, the celebrity crocodile had already earned nearly half million pesos in donations, entrance fees, and parking fees, with a daily income of about P10,000 that month.
Guinness World Record
After six months of waiting since the visit of Australian zoologist and crocodile expert Dr. Adam Britton, Lolong was officially certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "world's largest crocodile in captivity" at 20.25 ft (6.17 m). Experts from the National Geographic Channel found out that Lolong breaks the record of the previous record-holder: a 5.48-m (18 ft) male saltwater crocodile named Cassius kept in the crocodile park of MarineLand Melanesia in Queensland, Australia. The certification was read in public during the celebration of Araw ng Bunawan.
Bunawan Media Affairs Coordinator Welinda Asis-Elorde said the local government unit, through a private-public partnership project, will be embarking on a P200-million site development project for the Bunawan Ecopark and Research Center.
"You have more than 5,000 crocodiles, some of them are giants bigger even than Lolong at Agusan Marsh here in Bunawan, therefore we need a longer plan for more visitors to come and visit this homeland of the giants. We are embarking on this P200-million project now and for future generations", she said.
Bunawan Municipal Planning & Development Officer Robert Floyd Salise, told PNA in an interview that the project will include the construction of cottages, lodging houses or inns, swimming pools, an amphitheatre, laboratory and research center, souvenir shops, pavilion, and other amenities.
Lolong was found dead inside his compound at around 8 p.m. on 10 February 2013. The necropsy revealed he had died of pneumonia and cardiac arrest, which was aggravated by a fungal infection and stress. His remains were to be preserved by taxidermy. However, by July, it was reported that Lolong's remains were in deep freeze for five months at the Davao Crocodile Park, and that local government of Bunawan and the National Museum, jointly responsible, had not yet apparently agreed on a course of action.
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- "Pneumonia, stress contributed to Lolong's death, initial study shows". GMA News Online (20 February 2013).
- Villanueva, Rhodina. (3 March 2013) "National Museum tasked to preserve ‘Lolong’". The Philippine Star
- Regalado, Edith. (7 July 2013) "Giant croc Lolong now frozen and forgotten". The Philippine Star