‘Larry’ the crocodlie is kept in a temporary home, away from the clutches of illegal dealers. Image Credit: Javed Nawab/Gulf News

Dubai: A crocodile rescued by Gulf News last month and handed over to Dubai Zoo is in good health.

Gulf News bought 'Larry' from a dealer to expose the trafficking in exotic wildlife for sale as pets in the UAE. Also offered to undercover reporters were lion, tiger and cheetah cubs, slow lorises and orangutans. Their prices ranged between Dh40,000 and Dh175,000.

For Dh1,000, Larry was delivered in a small plastic box.

The hatchling, estimated to be around three months old, is being cared for by Dubai Zoo staff. Larry has gained over 50gm, tipping the scales now at around 150gm. It has also grown longer by a few centimetres, stretching more than 38cm from snout to tail.

Larry, whose gender has not yet been determined, is being housed in a zoo aquarium and being hand-fed small fish. It is fed three small fish every second day, with plans to increase feeding to two fish a day by mid-December.

Dubai-based wildlife specialist Dr Reza Khan, who is also a zoo management specialist at Dubai Municipality, said that “Larry’s doing fine. He’s getting accustomed to us. He’s comfortable and seems to have a good appetite. That’s a good sign.” Dr Khan’s team is looking after Larry.

The hatchling spends a lot of time basking under a lamp, Dr Khan said. It rests on bricks in a corner of the tank.

“Crocodiles like idle time… Larry comes towards the fish when we put it on the bricks. There are small fish in the tank, but Larry’s too young to hunt them.”

Dr Khan warned against keeping wildlife such as crocodiles at home, saying “they belong in the wild”.

“It’s extremely dangerous to have a Nile crocodile in your home because they are quite dangerous. A fully grown one can easily harm and kill a child or even a man,” he said.

Dr Khan said the hatchling will be examined at a later stage to determine its sex. “It’ll be easier to check that later, we don’t want to disturb him now.”

The underground deal involving Larry was caught on hidden camera and revealed online on gulfnews.com.

With little effort, reporters were able to find a contact at the Sharjah Birds and Animals Market who agreed to supply the hatchling — and many other restricted species. Larry is the second Nile hatchling obtained under similar circumstances. Gulf News earlier bought Harry in 2009, as part of special coverage on the trafficking of restricted animals.