'So long, Lolong'
MANILA, Philippines - Dr. Adam Britton, the British zoologist that confirmed Lolong as the world's largest crocodile in captivity, is sad after the massive reptile died on Sunday night, February 10.
"Sadly, Lolong the record-breaking 6.17 m saltwater crocodile caught in the Philippines in September 2011 died last night around 8 pm local time," Britton wrote in his Croc Blog on Monday, February 11.
The expert refused to speculate on the cause of death in his message "So long, Lolong."
"There's a lot of speculation about the cause of death, but until a necropsy has been completed, we won't actually know what killed him. Ronnie Sumillar, the local expert who led the capture effort, is conducting the necropsy. I'm sure this is not what he wanted to be doing today," he posted.
A netizen commented from the Philippines that Lolong might still be alive if he had not been removed from the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary and was unhappy in the "small enclosure" of his pen.
The National Geographic Channel consultant replied: "He might be alive, but don't forget many locals were trying to poison him because he was blamed for the death of a 9-year-old girl and a local fisherman. He was removed before this happened to him."
Dr. Adam Britton also disagreed when the same reader said he was upset "because people here in the Philippines are just greedy… they only care about the money it will bring."
He wrote: "It's not really fair to say that the people who caught him were only interested in money. They put a lot of effort into using Lolong to raise awareness of crocodiles, and redirect money he earned into conservation of the marsh," he said.
The crocodile specialist added that people in Bunawan, Agusan del Norte "were devastated by his death because they all loved him, and having met them I know this is genuine."
A team has been dispatched by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the town to investigate the cause of Lolong's death. - with reports from Carlos Santamaria/Rappler.com