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August 6, 2009

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Zoo has to build new enclosure for crocs

THE Shanghai Zoo has to build a new home for estuarine crocodiles as their number has boomed recently, officials said yesterday.

The Jinshan District seized an illegal shipment of two boxes carrying 11 estuarine crocodiles at the weekend and sent them to the zoo.

The Jinshan District Wildlife Protection Office said the crocodiles from Guangdong Province would have ended up on restaurant tables.

"On the A8 highway, the police found a truck transporting crocodiles didn't have a certificate (to transport them)," said wildlife protection official Gu Xiaobin. "The police confiscated the crocodiles and informed us."

Officials found the crocodiles' mouths were sealed with adhesive tape and sent them to the zoo immediately.

At present 20 estuarine crocodiles - all found - are living at the zoo, including two caught last week. One was found on a Metro line construction site and another on a highway in Qingpu District.

Local wildlife protection authorities have not discovered where they came from.

Zoo officials said the crocodiles discovered at the weekend were in better health than the ones brought in last week.

The two found last week had mouth abscesses because their snouts were taped shut for more than a week.

"Now their abscesses are getting better," said Wu Weichun, director of the zoo's amphibious animals department.

"They have been able to eat."

The zoo is developing an old goldfish pool for the newcomers, because estuarine crocodiles are more fierce than the Yangtze alligators the zoo usually raises, and they may attack humans unprovoked, Wu said.

The crocodiles will meet the visitors later after the special pool is finished.


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