BUNAWAN, Philippines — A monster crocodile which is reputedly the world's largest is the star attraction at its own nature park which opened in the Philippines this weekend, weeks after the beast's capture.
People are already paying 20 pesos (46 cents) to enter the compound in the town of Bunawan for a look at the 21-foot (6.4-metre) male saltwater crocodile which is believed to have killed two people.
Bunawan Mayor Edwin Elorde hopes to have another attraction soon: a reportedly even larger crocodile that was sighted by residents of this largely rural town on the southern island of Mindanao.
"They saw it with their own eyes, It was bigger. Our estimates are that it would be 25 to 30 feet long with body width of around four feet," he told reporters.
The two huge crocodiles were sighted killing a water buffalo in August. So far, only one has been caught after a two-week long hunt.
In the park, the crocodile, named "Lolong" after a deceased, veteran crocodile hunter, can be seen lying in a fenced-off pond, attracting curious visitors from all over the Philippines.
The proceeds from Lolong's park will be used to pay for the one million pesos in costs from catching the creature, said Elorde.
A pit that was originally excavated for the town's swimming pool was hastily converted into a waterhole for the crocodile.
Another pit is also being dug in the park to hold the second crocodile, Elorde said, adding that the hunt for the creature would start in October.
Guinness World Records last week declared an Australian crocodile measuring just under 5.5 metres as the biggest in captivity, saying it would not measure Lolong until it was in "acceptable captivity."
The 1,075-kilogram (one-ton) Lolong is believed to be behind the deaths of two people although this could not be confirmed, officials said.
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had urged authorities to free the crocodile but Elorde refused, saying it still posed a threat.
Elorde said the waterways of his town were home to many large marine animals including carp and mudfish weighing as much as nine kilograms and snails about 10 centimetres (four inches) in diameter.
"We have giants because we have one of the most undisturbed portions of this marsh, thus these animal species grow freely in the wilds undisturbed by humans," he said.