Ohio zoo getting big crocodile from Australia

TOLEDO, Ohio - A crocodile that got into trouble in his native Australia for killing too many cows in the wild will be the biggest attraction at the Toledo Zoo's new Australian-themed exhibit.

But zoo officials say he'll only get chicken for dinner in his new home.

The 17-foot killer crocodile weighing 1,500 pounds is known appropriately enough as "Big Guy."

He'll be the largest saltwater crocodile in North America when he arrives next month, said Jeff Sailer, executive director of the Toledo Zoological Society.

The crocodile has been living at a crocodile sanctuary in Darwin, Australia. He was trapped by wildlife officials about a year ago and moved to the sanctuary because he was attacking cows in the wild and deemed a nuisance animal, Sailer told The Toledo Blade.

The crocodile is estimated to be about 40 to 50 years old.

"He does not show any signs of advanced age," Sailer said. "Crocodiles can live well past 80, sometimes past 100."

The Toledo Zoo's new Australian-themed Wild Walkabout exhibit will have wallabies, dingoes, and deadly snakes. But the big crocodile will be the star.

Zoo officials spent several months working with the U.S. and Australian governments to get the crocodile's trip approved.

"This is a remarkable opportunity," said Andy Odum, the zoo's assistant director of animal programs. "He will be a tremendous ambassador for wildlife, not to mention a great educational opportunity and something really spectacular for the public."

Travel plans call for the crocodile to make a 30-hour flight in a specially made crate, while heavily sedated, from Australia to Dallas in early April. From there, he'll be flown to Toledo after clearing customs.

The cost of bringing the crocodile to Toledo totals $90,000, with renovation of the 12,050-foot solarium that will house the reptile costing $900,000.

Odum says there will be a basking beach, with a supplemental heater and underground heating designed to keep the area in the low 90s.

Saltwater crocodiles also are found throughout Southeast Asia to the eastern coast of India and ranging as far west as the eastern coast of Africa.

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