Photo courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Dr. Ben Gonzale, wildlife veterinarian (left), and Tom Batter (right), a scientific aide with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, prepare a young Nile crocodile for its trip to San Francisco’s Steinhart Aquarium, where it will spend two weeks undergoing medical evaluation. The crocodile was abandoned at a Roseville shopping center Wednesday.

Crocodile roaming Roseville shopping center sent to San Francisco aquarium

Published: Friday, Apr. 11, 2014 - 11:15 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Apr. 11, 2014 - 11:28 pm

A Nile crocodile abandoned at a Roseville shopping center will spend the next two weeks undergoing medical evaluation at San Francisco’s Steinhart Aquarium.

Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said two veterinarians with the department examined the 4-foot-long crocodile and determined it is in moderate health. But because neither is an expert in reptiles, they sought a specialist in the field.

While the crocodile is evaluated at the Steinhart Aquarium, Fish and Wildlife staff members will seek to find a zoo or other facility willing to provide the animal with a permanent home.

Roseville animal control officers responded to the TJ Maxx Plaza on Douglas Boulevard on Wednesday morning after receiving several calls reporting that a crocodile was roaming the shopping center. Police said someone had abandoned the animal in a container outside a reptile business with a note identifying it as a Nile crocodile and requesting that someone “call rescue.” But the crocodile got out of the container and went for a walk around the plaza.

An animal control officer lassoed the animal and turned it over to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Foy said Fish and Wildlife veterinarians determined the crocodile has broken teeth and a mouth infection. That is a common condition of any wild animal that has been kept in a cage that is not up to standard, he said, noting that the animals often bite the wire cage.

He said the crocodile is a juvenile, but it is difficult to pinpoint the age. The size of a young crocodile depends on its overall health and the quality of its food, Foy said.

The animal has a nasty temperament, but that is not uncommon for a crocodile, Foy said, noting that they are far more aggressive than alligators.

Some species of crocodiles are native to the United States. The American crocodile is an endangered species, said Foy, who recalled seeing one in Florida.

“But this is a Nile crocodile,” he said, “and it’s very much unlawful to have as a pet.”

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Read more articles by Cathy Locke

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