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Crocodile freezes to death in minus 45C cold on 2,860 km circus trip

By Olga Gertcyk
03 January 2016

Handler defends moving the reptile in extreme conditions after media highlight animal's death from hypothermia.

In the truck the temperature can be minus 10C, but for pythons and crocodiles this is deadly. They need 45C. Picture: Wilfried Berns 

The six year old crocodile was being moved from Vladivostok to Chita when the truck broke down on the highway in harsh conditions. The handler, named only as Sergey, said the crocodile died after biting a hole in its warmed styrofoam container and being exposed to the extreme cold. 

'It was minus 45C (minus 49F) outside,' he said. 'There was a truck with tigers and apes in front, and reptiles were sitting in a styrofoam container which we put on the back seats of our car. 

'The car broke down, and while we were not moving, the crocodile gnawed a hole in the container and got into the trunk. He made a hole at the very bottom, we couldn't see it. 

'He went out but didn't have the brain to get back. The pythons were with him in the thermo box. They kept lying on hot water bottles and nothing happened to them.'

From Vladivostok to Chita

The six year old crocodile was being moved from Vladivostok to Chita when the truck broke down on the highway in harsh conditions. Picture: The Siberian Times

He added: 'The crocodile was a metre and a half long. I repeat, we take all the necessary precautions: every 200 kilometres I was replacing the 'hotties', six of them, filling them with hot water.

'He wouldn't have died if he hadn't escaped... It's just a sorry coincidence. A reptile is a reptile, they have no brain.'

He insisted other animals including tigers and lions were 'fine' on the long trip. 'In the truck the temperature can be minus 10C, but for pythons and crocodiles this is deadly. They need 45C.' This was why they were kept in the special containers, he said. 

'They are our children. What happened is a human factor, it could have happened to anyone. If someone wants to judge me, try driving 5,000 kilometres with animals in winter and have everything fine with them. 

'I've worked in the circus for 40 years, different things happen. Any handler is afraid of moving, anything can happen.'

Comments (2)

Well I'm sorry that this happened too. Animals (especially wild ones) have no place in circuses anymore. Why does man think he can do whatever he likes with animals? Arrogance beyond belief :(
CC, UK
04/01/2016 17:59
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Sorry for your loss, Sergey. I understand your sadness and regret. I hope you get another crocodile soon. I, for one, do not blame you. It is obvious that you care for your "children". No matter how one prepares for all sorts of eventualities, things just happen. It is just the random nature of the universe.
E. Espinosa, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
04/01/2016 02:34
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