Buka the crocodile, who lived in captivity at Australia’s Koorana Crocodile Farm for many years and was well known to locals, has swam on ahead to cleaner waters. He was reportedly 100 years old.
The crocodile’s age is only slightly more impressive than his size: he was 17 feet long and weighed more than one tonne. He was the gentle type of giant, according to the owners of the farm, who said he had a “great personality.”
The farm posted the following obituary on its Facebook page:
“Our family here at Koorana suffered a huge loss today – Our king Buka sadly passed away last night. He had the most gentle temperament we had ever seen in a wild crocodile. He was a remarkable family member who entertained people with us since 1984, generations of Levers have grown up knowing him, and generations of the general public have also grown knowing him and his beautiful nature.
“Buka will be remembered fondly by us here at Koorana and the world who saw him, we are forever thankful for all the years he attracted people to our destination and all the years he took such good care of his partner Bonnie who is now in mourning.”
Buka was kidnapped from his natural habitat—an irrigation channel in North Queensland—in 1984 and taken to Koorana so that he could serve as a tourist attraction.
One of Koorana’s owners, John Lever, provided some information about what Buka’s life was like while he was free.
“The local farmer knew he was there because he used to feed him on roadkill wallabies and then he started to get an attack of the guilts because he thought someone was going to get hurt, so he asked us to go and catch it and we got Government approval to do so,” he told ABC.
“He was a gentle fellow, obviously. He used to just go underwater and people would swim over the top of him, but he never harmed anyone.”
ABC reports that the owners of Koorana plan to mount his head on the ceiling of their restaurant, Jeffrey Dahmer-style.
Crocodiles are famous for their long lifespans. The saltwater crocodile, for instance, has a life expectancy of about 70 years.