Crocodile shock for security guard at Chinese beauty spot

Mandy Zuo

A security guard at a beauty spot in eastern China was shocked to discover a 2-metre (6ft 6in) crocodile while on his rounds in the early hours of Monday morning.

The animal was lying motionless on a road at Xinlonghu Park in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, with its jaws tied by a strip of cloth, when it was spotted by the security guard, who immediately called the police, according to the Modern Express newspaper.

It took a number of officers to capture the crocodile and take it to the local police station, where an investigation revealed the animal had escaped from a nearby restaurant. The animal was returned and the restaurant owner was “criticised” by police, who urged that a close eye be kept on the animal, the report said.

“They bought it from a farm somewhere as a food material to attract customers. It has been killed for crocodile meat dishes,” an officer told the South China Morning Post on Wednesday.

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Police said it was fortunate that the crocodile had been caught before it had entered the park’s lake or caused any danger to people.

It is unclear what species the crocodile belonged to but China permits the commercial breeding and use of the critically endangered Siamese crocodile, as well as saltwater and Nile crocodiles, which are listed as least concern species.

A staff member of the restaurant, called No. 1 Lakeside, told the Post stewed crocodile meat was on the menu for 168 yuan (US$23.60) a serving, while stewed crocodile claw was also available at 258 yuan.

Crocodile appears in ancient Chinese medicine books as a treatment for respiratory illnesses and the meat has long been regarded as a delicacy, especially in southern China, such as Guangdong province. Crocodile skin also remains a popular material for luxury handbags and other leather goods.

In June, another crocodile, measuring about 1.5 metres, was found in a road puddle during a heavy rain in Wuhan, in the central province of Hubei, where many restaurants have crocodile meat on their menus, the Chutian Metropolis Daily reported.

In that incident it took three officers to capture the animal which was sent to a wildlife centre where a physical check-up showed it had been bred in captivity, most likely for food.

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