Recently, a very special birthday was celebrated at a nature reserve near Cairns. A birthday cake made from raw chicken was served to the biggest – and maybe the oldest – saltwater crocodile in captivity.
Measuring in at 5.48 metres and weighing over 1,300kg, “Cassius” has been recognised by the Guinness World Book of Records for being the largest animal of its kinds. Now that he has reached the ripe age of 112, it is likely he is the oldest as well.
Named after Cassius Clay, the famous heavyweight boxer otherwise known as Muhammed Ali, the croc lives in tropical luxury at a retirement home on Green Island off the Queensland coast near Cairns. On the northern coast of Australia, Cairns is a lovely and popular stop on escorted Australia tours. Cassius was captured in the nearby Northern Territory in 1984 after gaining a reputation for snatching cattle and attacking boat propellers. When brought in, he was missing a leg and was covered with scars and gashes.
Cassius was purchased by George Craig, a croc handler who founded the Marineland Melanesia on Green Island. The saltwater croc was brought to the safety of the island along the Great Barrier Reef island to live out the rest of his life. And he keeps on going.
"They give crocodiles a maximum age of about 90 years in the wild just because another croc will eventually come along and kill them," said Jemma, daughter of George Craig, in a recent interview with the Brisbane Times. "Because he's been in captivity and sheltered for the past 30 years, he has lived a lot longer."
Cassius celebrated his birthday with balloons and fresh meat with the visitors of Marineland Melanesia. The reserve is run by three generations of Craig family handlers with Jemma being the youngest.
“Green Island is a really unique place,” she said. “I think it’s the only sand cay on The Great Barrier Reef that has a rainforest growing on it and a crocodile zoo let alone the biggest croc in captivity.”
Image Credit: Julia Chapple (flickr.com)