A crocodile crawling on the streets of Suifenhe, a city in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, was captured by police on Tuesday.
The false gharial was first spotted by a taxi driver who was napping in his car at the roadside.
“I saw the crocodile crawling toward the bus station ahead. It was then at the edge of a flower garden. I wasn’t quite sure what exactly it was. We thought it might be a crocodile so we called the police immediately,” said Li Xijiang, the taxi driver.
Local police soon arrived at the site. They covered the crocodile’s head with a woven bag and secured the animal. After taping its snout shut, police officers took the crocodile to the Suifenhe Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.
According to Jiang Chengyu, a senior veterinarian at the bureau, the crocodile is a false gharial, which is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). The population of this crocodilian variety is estimated to be below 2,500 adults.
“This is a unique crocodile. Judging from its condition, it has spent more time on land than in the water,” Jiang said.
The veterinarian added that the false gharial caught by Suifenhe police was a two-year-old, the body of which was about 1.5 meters in length.
Exactly how the false gharial came to the streets of Suifenhe has been under investigation, as the species is native to Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.
Police have already contacted local wildlife protection authorities to find a home for the young crocodile.
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