YEKATERINBURG, August 30 (RIA Novosti) – Police have called off the hunt for a stray crocodile spotted in the unofficial capital of Russia’s Urals region, with local media citing expert opinion that the reptile stands little chance of surviving in the wild.
“Nobody is looking for it specifically anymore simply because the law enforcement officers have a lot of real things to do,” a Sverdlovsk Region police spokesperson told RIA Novosti.
However, police will try to capture the crocodile if they happen across it, the spokesperson said on Thursday afternoon.
Local police earlier complained that they no formal instructions on crocodile hunting, but pledged not to shoot on sight.
The crocodile was first spotted Wednesday, when somebody filmed it darting through the grass near the River Iset in downtown Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-biggest city with a population of 1.4 million.
It remains unclear how the crocodile ended up on the loose in Yekaterinburg. The city circus denied any link to it. Police said a local resident might have bought it as a pet and then changed their mind.
The cold-blooded animal stands little chance of surviving in the Russian climate, even in summer, Moskovsky Komsomolets daily cited a Moscow Zoo spokesperson as saying.
It is unlikely it will find enough fish in the River Iset to feed on, and besides, crocodiles need a water temperature of at least 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), the spokeswoman said.
No figures were available for water temperature in the Iset River as of Friday afternoon, but it was 18 degrees Celsius in the city.