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Celebrity croc moves into Wetland Park (with photos)

    Hong Kong people may have to wait a little longer to see their beloved crocodile Pui Pui strolling, swimming or sunbathing in its landscaped enclosure in the Hong Kong Wetland Park, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (August 15).

     Following a smooth relocation exercise this morning, the celebrity croc moved into its new home in Tin Shui Wai and ended its two-year stay in the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) in Tai Po.

     In the interest of Pui Pui, department staff will put her under observation in the indoor portion of her home until she is considered fit to be released into the external pool. In the meantime, visitors can only watch the croc on CCTV.

     Speaking after the arrival of the croc in the Wetland Park, department Assistant Director Mr Lay Chik-chuen said there was no need for people to rush to the Park to see her, as she was here to stay.

     ˇ§As a celebrity croc, we believe Pui Puiˇ¦s exhibition in the Wetland Park will promote public awareness of wetland conservation,ˇ¨ he said.

     ˇ§People are welcome to see her at their leisure. They shouldnˇ¦t be worried about missing out and come here immediately as overcrowding will only lessen the enjoyment.ˇ¨

     Having taken expert advice into consideration, Pui Puiˇ¦s Home was designed to provide the reptile with a healthy and comfortable living environment.

     The outdoor enclosure is about 8 metres by 9 metres, of which 70% is pool area. With a maximum depth of one metre, the pool is landscaped with plants to provide sheltered areas, hiding places and basking areas for the reptile. Outdoor facilities include infra-red heaters, a heat pad and a weighing scale. Water in the pool is continuously circulated through a filtration system.

     In the 14-square-metre indoor holding area where Pui Pui is being kept under observation, there are large windows, fans and ventilation fans to provide good air circulation. The room is also equipped with heaters installed in the ventilation system, enabling the reptile to stay indoors on cold winter days.

     During todayˇ¦s transfer, the escort team, comprising vets from the department and KFBG, put the restrained croc in a crate to minimise any unnecessary stress.

     The salt water croc has become a local celebrity since being spotted at Shan Pui River, Yuen Long on November 2, 2003. Following months of unsuccessful attempts by Australian and Mainland experts to capture it, the reptile was trapped by department staff on June 10, 2004.

     The croc saga aroused wide public interest in wetland and wildlife conservation. After a territory-wide naming contest with 1,600 entries, the celebrity croc was named ˇ§Pui Puiˇ¨ - ˇ§the precious oneˇ¨, which is also a reference to Shan Pui River where she was found.

     Measuring 1.75 metres and weighing 19.5 kg, the six-year-old juvenile croc can grow to three metres when mature. The park enclosure is purpose-built to cope with her maturity.

Ends/Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Issued at HKT 15:01


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