Sun, Apr 15, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Kaohsiung croc has yet another surprise for zoo

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The crocodile that bit off a vet's forearm at Kaohsiung's Shoushan Zoo on Wednesday had another surprise for authorities on Friday.

As well as not being tranquilized when the vet tried to treat it and surviving being shot after reports said it had been killed, it now turns out that the reptile belongs to a different species of crocodile than was originally believed.

In a press release issued by the zoo after the crocodile bit off veterinarian Chang Po-yu's (張博宇) left forearm on Wednesday afternoon, the zoo identified the animal as a Nile crocodile.

But on Friday evening, the zoo admitted having mistaken the reptile's species after a report on Pingtung Technology University's Wild Animal Information Web site stated that the crocodile was a salt-water crocodile.

"The zoo apologizes for the incorrect information," said Chen Po-tsai (陳伯材), a deputy section chief from the zoo yesterday as authorities were replacing the illustration signboard in front of the crocodile's stockade.

A report was carried out on the request of the zoo after a crocodile breeder in Tainan saw media coverage of the accident and challenged the zoo's identification of the crocodile.

The zoo at first defended its identification on Friday morning, but admitted its mistake later in the day.

According to the expert report, salt-water crocodiles are not considered an endangered species in countries such as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, but Taiwan has listed it as a first-grade endangered species.

Wednesday's accident happened when Chang was treating the croc, which he mistakenly thought had been sedated with anesthetic darts.

When he reached to pull a dart from the animal's head, the crocodile bit off his left forearm.

Chang was rushed to the Emergency Room at Chung Ho Memorial Hospital while zoo staff and police struggled to recover his limb from the crocodile.

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