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National Museum wants Lolong’s taxidermy done in Manila

THE National Museum is requesting local officials to allow it to perform the taxidermy of Lolong, the world’s largest crocodile in captivity that died of pneumonia last month, in Manila.

“Director Jeremy Barnes of the National Museum wrote a letter to Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, Mayor Edwin Elorde about the plan,” Director Theresa Mundita Lim of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) revealed in an interview.

The request of the National Museum, Lim said, is logical, because the process of preserving dead animals, particularly of Lolong’s size, would take months and that it would require experts to perform the delicate procedure. It would also require a facility which only the National Museum possesses, she added.

The National Museum has been tasked to preserve Lolong since it has the experience and expertise, and is in charge of the preservation of dead animal of national importance.

The 20.4-feet Lolong is a national treasure and its preservation is of national importance, Lim said.

There is a strong clamor among residents and local officials of Bunawan to do the taxidermy of Lolong in Bunawan, where they intend to display the giant reptile’s preserved skin and skeletal remains later.  The local government of Bunawan is also planning to construct a facility where Lolong’s remains will be displayed.

Captured in the Agusan Marsh in September 2011, Lolong was found dead in its cage on February 10.  After taking tissue samples from Lolong, its skin was removed for purpose of preservation.

Lolong’s body was buried inside its cage, its home for 18 months.  Lolong’s skeletal remains will later be excavated, with the hope of reconstructing these for display.

Meanwhile, the PAWB is eyeing the transfer of Indanan, the 10-foot-long saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) rescued last year at Indanan, Sulu, from its current quarantine cage at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Rescue Center in Quezon City to the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (PWRCC) in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

Lim said the decision to transfer Indanan came after Indanan showed signs of full recovery.  However, Indanan has not yet eaten a single meal since its rescue in November last year.

“We want the transfer to be done as soon as possible,” Lim said.

“The papers needed for the transfer are being processed now,” she added.

Veronica de Guzman, project director of the PWRCC in Puerto Princesa, said a bigger cage next to the big crocodiles in the farm awaits Indanan.

Lim is worried that Indanan has not yet eaten a single meal since its rescue in November last year.

“Indanan is very active but it has not eaten anything yet,” Lim said.

Named after a town in Sulu where it was rescued, Indanan was being given a dose of vitamins to enhance its appetite and antibiotics for its wound, after surviving an emergency operation in January at the center in Quezon City.

It is being fed with chicken and fish but the crocodile seemed uneasy living in a quarantine cage, which is relatively small.

“Indanan needs a bigger cage,” she said.

Jonathan Mayuga

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