79-year-old Swedish architect Lars Liedegren has lost his arm up to the elbow after carelessly dipping his hand into a cage containing Cuban crocodiles during a party his men's club held at Skansen Aquarium in Stockholm. One of the crocodiles, named Castro, quickly seized the opportunity, grabbed his arm and held it in his mouth for about ten seconds while trying to retrieve the human morsel and bring it back to his cage.
Liedegen, who lost his left hand and forearm in the attack, described his experience as “cinematic”. By his own admission, he felt “tremendous pain” until he received a dose of painkillers. The Swede spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent several surgeries to prevent the spread of infection. He is looking forward to receiving a prosthetic arm, the newspaper Expressen reported.
According to Skansen press coordinator Helene Winberg, this is the first incident of this type since she started working at the zoo, and she hasn't head of anything similar before. As a result of the attack, the crocodile cages will be rebuilt.
Liedegren suggested that animals should not be punished for their ways and stressed that “us, humans” could change a bit.
The crocodile couple Castro and Hillary once belonged to Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Shatalov, who received them as a gift from Cuban leader Fidel Castro during his visit to Cuba in the late 1970s. At that time the reptiles were still very small (less than 50 centimetres in length), which is why Shatalov first kept them in his apartment, until his wife said enough was enough.
Shatalov presented the animals to the Moscow Zoo. Since the animals couldn't be properly housed them at that time due to repairs, they were offered to Stockholm's Skansen. They were personally delivered by Moscow Zoo director Vladimir Spitzin and flew a regular Aeroflot flight in 1981. Since then, the couple have thrived, laying their first egg in 1984.