POLICE in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town yesterday praised the efforts of 11 men they said contributed to the capture of a runaway pet crocodile.
Kong Kuon, police chief in Poipet commune, said that the 20-kilogram reptile had dug its way out of a dirt-floor cage and escaped following heavy rains on Wednesday. It was not caught until Friday.
“The owner kept it in a wooden cage where the crocodile could scratch the ground, and it ran away,” he said.
He said that the owner would not be punished, and that he had been keeping the crocodile as a pet for his children.
“We did not fine the owner. We just told him to be careful if he plans to keep on raising crocodiles,” he said.
But the man, who could not be reached yesterday, has apparently decided to sever ties with the runaway crocodile.
“The crocodile owner came to our station yesterday to see the crocodile,” Kong Kuon said. “The station is going to keep it because the owner is not going to take it back.” He said the crocodile had been chained in a pond on the grounds of the commune police station, where it was expected to stay for the foreseeable future.
Mean Chanthy, 31, said he joined in the attempt to catch the crocodile in the hope of receiving a financial reward.
“We were thinking of getting a tip from the owner after giving it back to him,” he said.
“We thought we should get at least 250,000 riels (US$59), but I got nothing because the police took the crocodile.”
Heng Sovannara, deputy director of the provincial Department of Agriculture, said yesterday that it was illegal for crocodiles to be kept as pets.
“If people are caught with crocodiles they should be fined according to the law,” he said.