By Faisal Masudi
Saltwater hatchling seized by officials joins Nile croc earlier rescued by Gulf News
Dubai: A smuggled saltwater crocodile seized by officials is getting along with Larry, the Nile crocodile rescued by Gulf News from traffickers, at Dubai Zoo.
Both baby reptiles are keeping well in a shallow water tank under supervision of zoo caretakers.
Larry was bought by undercover Gulf News reporters from an exotic pets dealer and handed over to the zoo late last year.
It was purchased to uncover the underground sale of protected wildlife as exotic pets in the UAE.
The dealer – a contact of a shopkeeper at the Sharjah Birds and Animals Market – also pitched lion, tiger and cheetah cubs, slow lorises and orangutans.
Some of these “pets” cost Dh175,000 in the underground market.
The saltwater hatchling, meanwhile, was seized by the Ministry of Environment and Water in a busted smuggling bid around two weeks ago and placed under care at the zoo, an official said.
Dr Reza Khan, a wildlife and zoo management specialist, said the saltwater crocodile was among other animals seized recently and homed at the zoo.
They were on a list of wildlife restricted or banned for trade, or had been imported without valid permits, he added.
The seized animals include a “fighting cock” from Pakistan, lizards, and a myna.
Dr Khan said he believed it was the first time the “very dangerous” saltwater crocodile species was caught by authorities in the UAE.
“This is the one that kills people, it’s definitely banned for trade,” he added.
“It can grow up to 20 feet, it’s the largest and longest reptile in the world.”
But at the moment the saltwater hatchling is very young and “still in a state of shock” from his smuggling ordeal to be of any threat, Dr Khan said.
It is being force fed small fish as it is refuses to eat on its own.
Larry, meanwhile, has a healthy appetite and is “starting to show a belly”, Dr Khan said.
The gender of both crocodiles is not yet known because of their young age.
The duo is “getting along fine”.
“Right now, they’re too young to realise they are individuals in their own right, and from different species. “When they’ll be over a metre long, then they’ll start fighting. That sense hasn’t come in now. We’ll separate them when it does.”
Dr Khan added: “When it’s two females, they usually don’t fight. In the wild, dominant Nile males have many females under them in a group. The others have to tolerate or respect the boss.”
Larry currently weighs almost 590gm (nearly 20gm more than the new arrival) even though he is 5cm shorter than his tank mate, who stretches over 60cm from snout to tail.