MANILA, Philippines – Animal rights group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Monday expressed sadness over the death of Lolong, the world's largest crocodile in captivity, but said it is not surprised it happened.
PETA had called for the release of the 20.4-foot long reptile after it was captured in September 2011. However, the agencies who took Lolong into custody said this is not possible since Lolong posed dangers to the residents.
Lolong was believed to have eaten a man who went missing and killed a 12-year-old girl.
Lolong died on Sunday night. The exact cause of its death has yet to be determined. An initial assessment revealed that its right stomach was distended.
PETA senior campaigner Ashley Funo explained that Lolong's prolonged captivity caused its death. She said "scientific studies have shown that captive animals die younger than their wild counterparts."
"Lolong suffered and died because people wanted to make money off his captivity," Funo added.
Funo noted that the concrete pen where Lolong had stayed for about 18 months is not an ideal place to live in for a crocodile its size. She said the enclosure may have caused "extreme distress and misery" for the crocodile.
"They are nocturnal and, in their natural homes, feed primarily at night. Crocodiles shun contact with humans, and captive crocodiles like Lolong never become tame,'" Funo said.
"No zoo can come close to providing what even small crocodiles need, much less a crocodile the size of Lolong. Crocodiles are hardwired to roam freely, seek out mates, and hunt for food. These genetic imperatives are compelling, and the way that they are fulfilled in the wild cannot be replicated in captivity."
Funo said the death of Lolong should force the government to stop capturing animals from the wild.