Activists in the Philippines demanded this weekend that a giant crocodile captured last week be freed. The animal rights activists said the crocodile,which measures 21 feet and weighs 2,370 pounds, should be released back into the wild, reports the Associated Press. The mayor of the town, however, says freeing the crocodile would put the community's safety at risk and should remain in an eco-tourism park.
The male reptile was caught last week after a 21-day hunt in the southern province of Agusan del Sur, Nine MSN reports. Wildlife officers had set traps after residents reported a series of attacks in the area. The operation involved 70 hunters, according to the Guardian.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said that if the saltwater crocodile, nicknamed Lolong, is not freed it will develop abnormal behaviors and could threaten the lives of visitors to the park, AP states.
"It's clear that the promoters of this park are thinking only of their bank balance, without so much as an afterthought for the animal's well-being," said Ashley Fruno of PETA.
"(The government) should do the compassionate thing and order this crocodile to be returned to his natural habitat, as taking him away to be locked up in an animal prison is just plain wrong," she wrote to AFP.
The mayor of the township, Edwin Cox Elorde, argues that the crocodile could kill one of the 1,300 residents who fish in the area. He insisted that the crocodile was captured to save both the area's residents and the reptile.
The crocodile is thought to be the largest in captivity.